Monterey Pop 50 pays tribute to the Summer of Love & the festival that started it all

Monterey Pop International Festival 50By Steph Port //

Monterey International Pop Festival 50 //
Monterey County Fairgrounds – Monterey, CA
June 16th-18th, 2017 //

Last weekend marked the 50th anniversary of the Monterey International Pop Music Festival, the iconic three-day music fest held at the Monterey County Fairgrounds in 1967 that featured such artists as Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Grateful Dead, Ravi Shankar, Simon & Garfunkel, the first large-scale performance by Janis Joplin and the introduction of Otis Redding.

To celebrate the occasion, Monterey International Pop Festival’s 50th anniversary featured a lineup of original performers and newer artists alike who all paid tribute to the original event in some way.

Many of this year’s artists covered songs by 1967 performers, such as Norah Jones (Grateful Dead’s “Ripple”), Jack Johnson (Steve Miller Band’s “Joker”; Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady”), Nicki Bluhm & Dirty Dozen Brass Band (Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit”), Hiss Golden Messenger (Grateful Dead’s “Brown Eyed Women”) and Booker T. Jones’ Stax Revue (Otis Redding’s “Respect”).

Monterey Pop International Festival 50 - Jim James


Jim James

The three-day stretch featured plenty of sit-ins and collaborations as well, including Father John Misty, Nathaniel Rateliff and Danny Clinch joining Leon Bridges for his encore, Jones dueting with Johnson on a beautiful cover of “I Shall Be Released” and Duane Betts joining North Mississippi Allstars for “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”, to name a few.

An on-site art exhibit featured original documents and photographs and showed parts of D.A. Pennebaker’s famed documentary “Monterey Pop”. The Morrison Hotel Gallery also hosted a pop-up gallery, which showcased 50 photographic prints of the artists that performed at the original festival, with several of the photographers in attendance.

The spirit of the Summer of Love could be felt throughout the weekend. Artists were honored as an important part of Monterey Pop’s legacy, and we all left with a sense of gratitude for its impact on contemporary culture and how we see music today.

Gov’t Mule pay tribute to list of legends at Orpheum

govt-mule-postBy Josh Herwitt //

Gov’t Mule //
Orpheum Theatre – Los Angeles
September 26th, 2014 //

Warren Haynes may be leaving The Allman Brothers Band for good after this year, but that doesn’t mean the future of Gov’t Mule is in jeopardy. The Southern rock outfit has been going strong for 20 years now, becoming a staple in the jam scene and a household name at music festivals across the country.

But for as many gigs as they’ve tallied over the past two decades, the well-oiled machine of Haynes (guitar, vocals), Matt Abts (drums, percussion), Danny Louis (keyboards, trumpet, guitar, vocals) and Jorgen Carlsson (bass) hasn’t slowed down, releasing their 10th studio album Shout! just a year ago.

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Hitting LA on a Friday night for their “20 Years Strong” tour, the quartet ripped through a 19-song, two-and-a-half hour performance at the historic Orpheum Theatre that saw Haynes and company pay tribute to a long list of music’s biggest legends — Ray Charles, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash, Al Green, Ann Peebles, Maynard Ferguson, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Sly and the Family Stone, The Allman Brothers, Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Police were all represented in some shape or form over the course of the night.

With Gov’t Mule only playing three songs from Shout!, it was clear that this night was more about their appreciation for those who had come before them than what their own music embodies. When it was all said and done, Mule left their loyal LA fan base eager for the next U.S. tour — whenever that may be.

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Set 1:
Mule, Game Face (with “Birdland,” “Mountain Jam” and “Norwegian Wood” teases), Little Toy Brain, Funny Little Tragedy (with “Message in a Bottle” lyrics), Kind of Bird (with “When the Wind Cries Mary” tease), Banks of the Deep End, Captured, Broke Down on the Brazos

Set 2:
Done Got Wise, I Believe to My Soul (Ray Charles cover with Jimmy Vivino and Jeff Babko), Brighter Days, Fallen Down (with “Gimme Shelter” lyrics), The Other One Jam (Grateful Dead cover with “Gimme Shelter” lyrics), Drums, Drums & Bass, I Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody’s Home (Ann Peebles cover with Jimmy Vivino and Yoshi Yanagi with “Let Me Have It All” lyrics)

Encore:
Effigy (Creedence Clearwater Revival cover), Folsom Prison Blues Jam (Johnny Cash cover) > Effigy, I’m a Ram (Al Green cover)

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First Times: Experiencing Seattle’s music scene

Seattle skylinePhotos by Melissa Hebeler & Josh Herwitt // Written by Josh Herwitt //

Growing up in the 90’s, Seattle always had a special place in my heart.

From my days of listening to Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains albums in my bedroom, grunge music had already produced a profound impact on my musical taste by the time I entered my teens. Unlike so many of my peers, I never became a crazed Nirvana fan, but the rock music I did like — whether I knew it or not at the time — was being born in the Pacific Northwest.

As time passed and my music palette grew, grunge wasn’t the only genre coming out of the region that tickled my ears. In fact, Seattle’s musical history stretches further than it just being the birthplace of grunge. In more recent years, Seattle’s hip-hop scene, for one, has exploded in part due to Grammy winners Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, but even experimental acts like Shabazz Palaces and Blue Sky Black Death have helped build the local scene. And let’s not forget that we’re talking about the city that bred the one and only Sir Mix-a-Lot, of course.

Knowing this, my expectations of Seattle’s music scene have always been quite high. Since the late 60’s when Seattle native Jimi Hendrix took London by storm with bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell, there has been a musical fabric that has run through the Emerald City. It’s a city, after all, that has a nonprofit museum dedicated largely to pop culture and music, with informative, in-depth exhibits on the history of The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Nirvana that include authentic artifacts, hand-written lyrics, used instruments and original photographs of both groups. You never know — maybe someday Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Foo Fighters memorabilia will also find its way behind the EMP Museum’s glass doors.

EMP Museum

Meanwhile, Sub Pop, Seattle’s famed independent record label, has found continued success outside of its home base long after popularizing the grunge movement, with indie contemporaries like The Shins, Fleet Foxes, Beach House, Foals, The Postal Service and Wolf Parade all signed to its current roster. And even more than 25 years after its inception, the label Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman created hasn’t lost its charm in a city where the Seahawks carry as much weight as any local band on the brink of national prominence these days.

With that said, while history can’t be erased, it certainly doesn’t mean it will be repeated. The Crocodile, formerly known as The Crocodile Café, has long been a fixture in Seattle’s music scene; the relatively small, intimate club on the corner of 2nd Avenue and Blanchard Street in the neighborhood of Belltown was the place where bands like Nirvana and Death Cab for Cutie first got their start. Even though the 525-person venue closed its doors in 2007, it reopened them a couple years later and has remained instrumental in maintaining Seattle’s reputation as one of America’s best music cities.

But whether it was the Fourth of July holiday or just the band that was booked for the night — in this case, San Francisco’s Geographer, who I have seen a handful of times at this point — I was surprised to see a room only half full of spectators when I walked inside. Maybe Geographer just doesn’t draw in Seattle what it does in SF or LA — or maybe I’m just spoiled. Since graduating college, I have had the privilege of living in New York and Los Angeles while getting to experience both cities’ music scenes for an extended period of time. My concert-going experiences haven’t been restricted to just LA and NYC, though. Over the years, I have made numerous trips to Denver — a city smaller than Seattle, yet one that undeniably eats, breathes and lives for live music — to attend shows at Red Rocks and beyond.

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At The Crocodile, something felt missing unfortunately. Sure, it was just one show, but there wasn’t the same kind of buzz I found in any of those aforementioned cities. For whatever reason, my native LA often gets vilified by outsiders and transplants for our crowds’ lack of enthusiasm; words like “rude” and “unengaged” are regularly thrown around when it comes to LA’s music scene. But the energy at The Crocodile on that Friday night wasn’t anything better than what I experience on a regular basis in Southern California. If anything, it was considerably worse.

As disappointed and uninspired as I was after the show, my respect for Seattle’s music scene hasn’t wavered. With so much of my youth influenced by the musicians who have called this majestic seaport city home, it will always remain an important place for this music lover. Yet, what it’s made me realize is just how lucky I am to have lived where I’ve lived and been where I’ve been.

Geographer

New Music Tuesday: Jimi Hendrix • How to Destroy Angels • The Men • Youth Lagoon • Rhye • The Cave Singers • Blue Hawaii

Jimi Hendrix - People, Hell and Angels

Every Tuesday, we focus on new music releases by naming our top tracks, album highlights, lowlights and important takeaways for select albums.


Jimi HendrixPeople, Hell and Angels

3-BamsTop Tracks:
“Earth Blues”
“Hear My Train a Coming”
“Somewhere”

Album Highlights: The solo in “Hear My Train a Coming” is quintessential Jimim and it bridges the gap between beginning and end of the song perfectly. This early take on the classic song is quite powerful, and the solo alone deserves a listen. “Somewhere” has Hendrix showcasing his amazing Wah Wah pedal skills, and his stream of conscious style singing makes this song come to life. The album opener “Earth Blues” is probably the most complete song with great lyrics and classic Jimi riffs throughout.

Album Lowlight: I thought the album lost its place during “Let Me Move You,” even though the great Lonnie Youngblood was featured on Saxophone. The track seems out of place on the record, and the same could be said for “Mojo Man.” Also, the album ended with a whimper by picking “Villanova Junction Blues” as the outro song, and it isn’t even two minutes long. While I can’t exactly blame Jimi for this choice, I would prefer to hear a blistering solo to end the record.

Takeaway: It’s just great to hear Jimi Hendrix play guitar, and for that I am grateful this album has been released so far after his untimely death. It definitely helps us see which direction Jimi was going right after the Experience broke up. Most of the recordings are from sessions he played with Billy Cox and Buddy Miles, the rhythm section from the Band Of Gypsies. Hendrix was straying from his psychedelic era sounds with the material that ended up on People, Hell and Angels, leaning more toward bluesy rock from Hendrix’s early years.

~Pete Mauch


How to Destroy AngelsWelcome Oblivion

3.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Keep it Together”
“Ice Age”
“The Loop Closes”

Album Highlights: Welcome Oblivion is a brilliant experiment in collaboration between Trent Reznor and his wife, Mariqueen Maandig (formerly of West Indian Girl), also featuring his usual suspects, Atticus Ross and Rob Sheridan. To take the industrial tension of Nine Inch Nails and have the vocals fronted by the sultry and angelic Maandig is a winning formula. Tracks like “Ice Age” turn down the synths and simply pair staccato strings with soft vocals, throwing the listener for a loop compared to previous tracks. Recently, Reznor has become the master of keeping his fans on their feet, this recently demonstrated by the quick and startling revamping of Nails, all before he’s even debuted How to Dress Angels on stage. Production is heavy on the chiller side of industrial/glitch electronic music, even industrializing the sound of vocals as seen in the beginning of “Too Late, All Gone.” Not all tracks feature vocals, something Reznor is a bit fond of.

Album Lowlight: The inclusion of Mariqueen as lead singer alleviates some pressure from Trent, and it certainly shifts the overall sound and feel away from something that is wholly Nine Inch Nails. With this stated, I would have liked to hear a bit more of Reznor’s characteristic vocal style. “Keep it Together” is a prime example of Trent augmenting Mariqueen’s steamy female vocals, and this would have been welcomed on more tracks.

Takeaway: Fans of Nine Inch Nails will enjoy this release, furthermore listeners who may have been scared away by the likes of the brutal side of NIN (see “Closer”) will feel it is more palpable, especially to female listeners. Reznor is not a musician who takes much down time, and he has kept himself busy since temporarily dissolving NIN a few years back. This project is not brand new, but has now fully taken flight with the impending live debut coupled with a debut LP. Welcome Oblivion is a satisfying listen overall, taking a great leap in con-temporizing the brilliant industrial sound Trent Reznor and his cohorts have polished over multiple decades.

~Kevin Quandt


The MenNew Moon

Top Tracks:
“The Seeds”
“Electric”
“I See One”

Album Highlights: New Moon is a different album than previous, likely pointing to maturity or fear of being lost in the ever increasing bands that sound akin. It leans more on the poppier side than the noise side of rock, especially when viewed compared to previous releases. Songs like “The Seeds” are a fun romp in folk rock that is becoming evermore popular, as demonstrated by Father John Misty and the likes. “I Saw Her Face” features a heavy, lo-fi guitar lead full of drudge and weight to accompany the lulled-out drumbeat and bass. “Bird Song” lends itself to a more personal side that would make Crazy Horse smirk. One can almost hear old Neil play his harmonica along with ‘em.

Album Lowlight: It feels as if the track order was a total toss-up, and gives the album a lack of direction and flow that is not easy to look past. Maybe they should slow down and take some time with these efforts, as this is the fourth release in four years.

Takeaway: An enjoyable spin on the current state of modern rock, full of hooks and unique tracks placed side by side in no distinguishable rhyme or reason. It’s lighter on the tinges of punk that these New Yorkers have been somewhat known for, but there is a sound for just about everyone on New Moon.

~Kevin Quandt


Youth LagoonWondrous Bughouse

3-BamsTop Tracks:
“Mute”
“Dropla”
“Raspberry Cane”

Album Highlights: Trevor Powers, the boy genius behind Youth Lagoon, has created a sequel to 2011’s Year in Hibernation that continues the dreamy low-fidelity indie rock and succeeds in many spots. “Mute” sounds clear and cheery after the opening track “Through Mind and Back,” and it is the best track on the long player. It starts with a Bradford Cox-like wandering space into, but when the track transitions to it’s second phase dominated by repetitious keyboard strokes and Star Wars destroyer swoosh-byes as part of the conceptual build, the song begins to fly. “The Bath” and “Third Dystopia” are also stand-out tracks.

Album Lowlight: Overall, Wondrous Bughouse could be viewed as a soundtrack to a sinister clown carnival, and only rarely succeeds (“Raspberry Cane”) while looking at the record through this prism. Upon repeat listens, Youth Lagoon’s newest effort is more appropriately seen as a collection of tripped out lullabies. But what holds this record back from greatness is that it feels like an exercise in seeing how many carnival sounds Powers could layer on top of each other while still creating likable pop songs. Creating this sound aesthetic is a tightrope walk, and it often works. It does not work with “Attic Doctor,” “Sleep Paralysis” & “Daisyphobia,” and these tracks push the “trippy lullaby” theme to the edge of the listener threshold.

Takeaway: The most joyous thing Powers established with The Year of Hibernation was a nuanced song structure. Most tracks thrived on introspective, exploratory introductions that thrived on building to a second-half sonic payoff. And it is the second-half building in tracks like “Afternoon” that smacked you out of your wondrous state, creating a contrast that is goose-bump inducing. Overall, this quality is less present in Wondrous Bughouse. However, the record is a grower, one where the nuances present themselves more and more, and most tracks subsequently get better with each listen.

~Mike Frash


RhyeWoman

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“The Fall”
“Open”
“3 Days”

Album Highlights: The highly anticipated debut album from Rhye, the producer duo Robin Braun and Mike Milosh, is an infectious, soulful, electro-R&B album. Women is highly sensual; this album is perfect for a late night romance or a long drive in the middle of the night. It’s upbeat enough to keep your head bobbing, but mellow enough to fall asleep to. And I say “fall asleep to” in the most endearing way possible.

The vocals are the true highlight of this album. Milosh and Braun’s voices work together in perfect venereal harmony that keeps the listener longing for more.

Album Lowlight: I’m nitpicking here, but I simply want more from Rhye. I can’t wait to see how their sound develops with future material, and I’ll be spinning this record for a while.

Takeaway: Woman has an incredibly developed sound that mixes elements of minimalist electronic with a orchestral components, highlighted by the incredible vocal performance. The album is extremely well produced and mature. For a debut album, it is a sensational effort. Dim the lights, open a bottle of wine and enjoy this album.

~Kevin Raos


The Cave SingersNaomi

2.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Have to Pretend”
“Shine”
“Northern Lights”

Album Highlights: The Cave Singers present a lighter, spring time soundtrack on their 4th album Naomi. The addition of Morgan Henderson on bass/flute (Fleet Foxes, Blood Brothers) and producer Phil Ex (Fleet Foxes, The Shins, Modest Mouse) allows the northwestern folk quartet to stick to their simple yet original and audible recipe while dabbling in some new territories. Front man Pete Quirk also sings in tune…on purpose, throughout the entire album! We can thank Ex for that suggestion.

Album Lowlight: Naomi lacks a certain flow that 2007’s Invitation Songs and 2009’s Welcome Joy possess. “Easy Way” ventures into a generic cookie cutter rock song that pushes Quirk to stressful, at times uncomfortable harmonies.

Takeaway: Fans that are looking for the same dish that The Cave Singers have been delivering will surely be satisfied. The fuller sound and additional band member definitely works in favor for the band. Still, The Cave Singers use the same, simple rifts with very little key chord progression, relying heavily on lyrical melodies. Don’t expect the same foot stomping, glass shattering sensation that “Dancing In Our Graves” delivers. This album will be great for sunny spring time mornings.

~Sam Heller


Blue HawaiiUntogether

2.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Yours to Keep”
“Try to Be”
“Sweet Tooth”

Album Highlights: Divided into two separate installments, “In Two” highlight’s the dual nature of this album’s artistic influences and conception. Cowan and Preston are both able to communicate their individual spin on the track in an extended jam, mixed perfectly through electronic dance-style cohesion.

Album Lowlight: Although tight on the mixing and an impressive execution of skill, “Sierra Lift” would have been better without as much editing. Standell-Preston’s vocals are excessively staggered and nearly indecipherable due to the choppiness of the track. The effect audibly is interesting, but becomes exhausting throughout the song’s duration, and album in general.

Takeaway: “Try to Be” is the best representation of what Untogether is aiming to achieve both in sound quality and songwriting. Blue Hawaii, a duo of Raphaelle Standell-Preston and Alexander Cowan, recorded Untogether with the intention to explore deviating genres and the audible patterns that lie between them. “Try to Be” showcases the natural symbiosis of their co-writing capabilities.

~Molly Kish

25 of the best cover songs ever

It’s pretty hard to proclaim the best cover songs of all time — there have been so many great covers performed in the studio and in a live environment. So that’s why we’re framing this as “25 of the Best Cover Songs Ever”. This list is not as hyperbolic as we prefer to be, but our top 10 is pretty damn solid.

Some prescribe to the theory that a cover song has to be better than the original to be great, or considered one of the the best. I don’t believe this to be true. There are cases in this list where the cover song does not surpass the original in greatness (see #25 for example). But if a cover song attempts to be different and successfully recreates a track to make it original and timeless in its own way, credit should be granted.

What did we miss? Leave us a comment with a YouTube link.

25. Chromatics – “Into the Black”
Originally by Neil Young

24. Guns N’ Roses – “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”
Originally by Bob Dylan

23. Bob Dylan – “Train of Love”
Originally by Johnny Cash

22. Johnny Cash – “I’m on Fire”
Originally by Bruce Springsteen

21. Bruce Springsteen – “Trapped”
Originally by Jimmy Cliff

20. Birdy – “Skinny Love”
Originally by Bon Iver

19. Sublime (featuring Alex Grenwald) – “Scarlet Begonias”
Originally by the Grateful Dead

18. Grateful Dead – “Morning Dew”
Originally by Bonnie Dobson

17. Alison Krauss & Robert Plant – “Trampled Rose”
Originally by Tom Waits

16. Santana – “Black Magic Woman”
Originally by Fleetwood Mac

15. Sharon Jones – “It’s a Man’s World”
Originally by James Brown

14. Radiohead – “The Headmaster Ritual”
Originally by The Smiths

13. Eric Clapton – “Coccaine”
Originally by JJ Cale

12. Tina & Ike Turner – “Proud Mary”
Originally by Creedence Clearwater Revival

11. Creedence Clearwater Revival – “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”
Originally by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles

10. The White Stripes – “Jolene”
Originally by Dolly Parton

9. Joe Cocker – “With a Little Help from My Friends”
Originally by The Beatles

8. The Beatles – “Twist & Shout”
Originally by The Top Notes, made famous by The Isley Brothers

7. Nirvana – “Where Did You Sleep Last Night”
Traditional song; arranged by Lead Belly

6. Janis Joplin – “Me and Bobby McGee”
Originally by Kris Kristofferson

5. Phish – “Remain in Light” LP in it’s entirety
Originally by Talking Heads

4. Talking Heads – “Take Me to the River”
Originally by Al Green

3. Aretha Franklin – “Respect”
Originally by Otis Redding.

2. Jimi Hendrix – All Along the Watchtower
Originally by Bob Dylan.

1. Johnny Cash – Hurt
Originally by Nine Inch Nails.