Thursday, December 31, 2015

The BESTY's 2015

Looking back on another fine year of live music in The Bay area and the greater Redwood Empire is always a fun task; this year I narrowed my list of favorite concerts down to a top 10. I also left a smidgen of room for another type of live entertainment. Live art is a weighty gift to give to the public. There are very few forms of expression that are consumed in a live setting. Rare is the open studio of a visual artist before they reveal their secrets to the world. The public only sees the marble sculptures of masters once they're place in the city fountains. The Sistine chapel wasn't witnessed by the commoner until finished. Music, on the other hand, has always warmed us with its organic interaction. This annual recollection of live music is a small token of my appreciation to those who have honed, and in turn, shared their craft. In chronological order, The BESTY's are...

Father John Misty at The Veterans Memorial Ballroom in Sonoma | January17th
Mr. Tillman was fearless and engaging as he unleashed his persona in Sonoma. In doing so he captured the audience with his art and his energy—Honeybear sprang to life inside the Memorial Ballroom. Father John and his Wilco-esque band quilted an elaborate sound around the showman's, or should I say shaman's, lyrical story telling. This intimate live setting allowed for those of us in attendance to hear the music of I Love You Honeybear before it had even released. Playing it safe doesn't seem to be the MO of this outfit. Highlights of the night were a three song bender that included, "Fun Times In Babylon," Now I'm Learning to Love the War," and "Holy Shit." This trio in the set list charted new territory on a night that was entirely captivating. For more details on one of the best shows of the year click here.

Elvis Perkins at The Chapel | May 16th
This show at The Chapel had a familial warmth to it, due to the combination of the venue and the artist. Elvis began with, "Good Friday," a heartfelt ode to his grandmother who had just passed that same day. Throughout the early stages of the set I could not help but be drawn in by the wizardry of the keys. Mitchell Robe was a scientist, adding the exact amount of whatever was needed in order to create an atmosphere that compliments the vocals. An early highpoint for me was a track from Dearland, "Hey." This offering was pretty rocking and showcased Mr. Perkins vocal prowess. The last song of the set was "Shampoo," a poetic reminder of how others may cause us pain. He would reemerge for an encore. "All Today," was the final song of the night; its words asking the grandest of questions, giving hope to the idea of unending love. For more on this concert click here

JP Harris and The Tough Choices at Cloverdale | June 19th
Real country that blisters the live concert-goer, while simultaneously reminding me of the sounds I would hear from my grandpa's old Ford truck, are almost too good to be true. Thank god for JP Harris and the organizers of Cloverdale's Friday night market. This weekly ritual makes for an amazing start to the weekend for those of us who live near enough. This gang of country ramblers is a modern-day throwback to when country sounded country—none of that fake-ass country-pop BS you find on the radio now-a-days. A night filled with dancing and yee-hawing is always a night worth being a part of. His timeless voice moves to the front, as pedal steel and subtle, yet spot on drumming, add texture to these country tales of life. When any age can listen to your music and find enjoyment, you've probably found something worth listening to. Rolling Stone named this act one of the tours not to miss. Free concerts are a good thing, this one was great. Twenty songs for the price of the beer you brought ain't bad. George Jones would be proud. And I walked away with a new LP.

Houndmouth at The Great American Music Hall | June 23rd
We partied like it was my birthday, because it was. A little band from Indiana called Houndmouth is ready to take over if only we give them a chance. The closest cocktail I can blend to give credence to their sound would be a mix of The Band with a good bit of Prince. Pretty high praise for a group that has released two albums. They play rock and roll, etched by skilled musicianship, sharing the vocal duties among all members. Early on in the set I was floored by "Palmyra" and "Casino (Bad Things)." They pretty much assaulted the audience with fiery guitar riffs and ample bass lines. The lead guitarist is on par with anyone, he makes it look effortless while sounding new. "Sedona" was a hit with the California crowd and a personal favorite of mine. The penultimate song of the night was a heater. "Say It" was an all out display of what guitar-driven rock can sound like when the lyrics are cared for and the music is fiery. The would encore with a few more, ending with the classic, "Runaround Sue." Not bad for a young and talented band that is sure to make more sweet music. For a more comprehensive review click here.

Sister Sparrow and The Dirty Birds at Cloverdale | July 3rd
When new artists not only win the audience over, but move the crowd, you know it was a good. This Blues-infused, rock and roll outfit has since garnered a fair amount of praise. I'd like to think I saw Sister Sparrow before they blew up. Two full sets of free music set amidst the friendly confines of Cloverdale became a summer habit. I highly recommend making your way there this next summer, their line-up was outstanding. The Dirty Bird harmonica player was a demon, he could have been the band leader and at times, he was. A Trumpet and sax add a soulful flavor to the sound—think of Motown horns with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, then add a female vocalist who can give it. "Sugar," from the album, The Weather Below, lead into a cover of, "Way You Make Me Feel," keeping the crowd moving and hungry for more. The first set ended with the high energy, "Too Much."

The Second set was a nonstop rug-cutter; everyone was dancing, stomping, hootin' and hollerin'. "Freight Train," stood out among the first block of songs. The barn burner of the night however was a roaring cover of Tom Petty's, "You Don't Know." They extended it with a searing exchange between the guitarist and the harmonica ace. This was one of the best free shows I've ever attended. We left that night with a buzz and a new piece of vinyl. You can't Clover if you don't Dale.

Shovels & Rope at Lagunitas | July 6th

These two know how to do it. I've been on their bandwagon for quite some time now. This wonderful duo is also a couple. They were expecting their first child at the time and this was their final gig before taking a leave for the little one. Sonoma county doesn't F around. Between Lagunitas and Cloverdale, there's not much of a need to leave the county for live music, at least during the summer months.

Shovels & Rope opened up on the organ and behind the kit, staggering the audience with the repeated lyrics, "I can see it comin'." (Title track to Swimmin' Time) Changing instruments often keeps their sound fresh, but make no mistake, they have their own sound. A six pack of songs in, they sounded like a stripped-down garage rock outfit. Raw, just drums and guitar, it felt fun to hear them rock. The next song marked the seventh of the evening and it was then that it hit me, they sing to each other. Their love for one another gleams from the stage.

Now she is seated at the organ for, "Devil is All Around," the first track from the previously mentioned album. Following each story, was the next story; Gators Boys and Half an Eyelid, these descriptors allow for cinematic images to pop into view. "Birmingham," kept us all suspended, baited for the next turn, the next lyrical path. They just give it and that feels good. Following the gospel was "Thresher," another timeless song that creaks in old time ways. Rounding out the mega set was the swampy reverb of, "Evil," a searing Chuck Berry number dedicated to his dad, and an all-time, "Bad Luck." My partner in crime was killing it on the dance floor. Brews and dusty shoes were in abundance.

Encores come in all shapes and sizes. Two songs was more than enough to assuage the beer-fed crowd. Swimmin' Time was the story book that many of these tales came from. Two people can do more. Their family is expanding and they ended the night with, "Who's Gonna Raise These Babies?" Sometimes wisdom knows no bounds. If you're wise at all, you'll get shoveled & roped.

St. Paul and The Broken Bones at Lagunitas | August 10th
California was lucky to have some Alabama in the house. The Broken Bones built a crescendo for St. Paul to walk out into. Collectively they raise the bar, moving between fast paced, to slow and soulful. Having snagged a set list I can tell you that they played an amazing rendition of Sam Cooke's, "Shake." They would sandwich in two of their own songs before dropping jaws on Wilson Picket's, "Ninety-Nine and A Half (Won't Do)." It was so hyped inside the mini-amphitheater. I was not the only one getting down. A few tracks later the front man clarified that, "One song per night I'm gonna take your ass to church." His sermon took form in, "It's Midnight." The main set came to a close with a Tom Waits cover, "Make it Rain." The diversity of the set was brought to life in new ways.

When unveiling an encore of three songs by three totally different artists, it can go one of two ways; super rad or super bad. The Broken Bones were not going to let us down as they navigated Bowie's, "Moonage Daydream," Otis Redding's, "I've Been Loving You," and The Beatles, "I want You (She's So Heavy)." Drop the mic! The Broken Bones are soaked in soul and the stained glass of St. Paul shines brightly. If only more preachers would hold a service like this. For a bit more on the performance click here.

Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats at The Chapel | September 9th
I was so damn hyped for this show. It was one of those times when I knew we were ahead of the curve. Now they're selling out multi-night runs at The Fillmore. They kicked things off with a rousing, "I Need Never," fulfilling my initial needs with some country-fried soul. The next couple of tracks took off with a sound that was more robust. This eight piece outfit was loosening up as the hum of the organ began to swell. "Howlin at Nothing" began with a slower, grimier feeling—growing later into a sonic beast that resembled New Orleans. This is my favorite song from their self-titled debut album. Next came a saloon-style party number by the name of, "I've Been Failing." The Night Sweats toned it down for a couple tunes, maybe so we could catch our breath. Neil Diamond would have been proud during "Thank You." The entire band picked it up on this number and never let off the gas. Nathaniel was giving it his all and sounding good while doing so. "S.O.B." came in like a missile we were all expecting, except how do you prepare for a missile? The crowd started chanting, the old Chapel seemed to quake, it was a rock and roll reckoning. The energy was palpable as they heaved bomb after bomb. The hook began to transform into another familiar song. Moments later we were all shell-shocked by the classic Band offering, "The Shape I'm In." The words were slicing into me, cutting away any inhibition that was still clinging to me. The Chapel had become church. Anytime you bust out The Band it best be fire, and this was an incinerator of flames. They would exit the stage, leaving the congregation in a sweaty upheaval. As the minutes passed you could sense the need for their return. Sure enough, they marched back out and blasted right into where they had left off. The "Shape" eventually morphed back into "Son of Bitch," eviscerating any doubt as to how hot the Night Sweats can get.  Click here for more.

My Morning Jacket at The Masonic | October 17th
They're at the top of the food chain and perhaps the best rock band in America. My Morning Jacket never fails to impress. When Jim James saunters onto the stage wearing a Darth Vader-like robe with a mini Moog dangling around his neck like Flavor Flave's clock, you know shit's gonna go off. 

Bass bombs and reverb lead the way on the opener, "Victory Dance." A heated "Compound Fracture" came before the first highlight of the night, "Evil Urges." Next, James began to goad us with his instrument-like vocals on "The Way That He Sings." The Jacket funked it up a bit on "I'm amazed," before exiting the stage, leaving Jim and Tom as a duo. They would go on to create a haunting "Hillside Song," aided by Blankenship's nifty pedal steel work. They maintained the stripped-down vibe with, "Where to Begin." This was the country western portion of the show and I loved it. 

There was a roller coaster feeling to the set. It was not built upon the idea of continued momentum, aiming for a final crescendo. The Jacket seemed willing to take us where they wanted to go. They were the captains of the ship, we were along for the ride. "Master Plan," took us on a guitar shredding bender before a ballad-like rendition of "Steam Engine." Jim would pace the Masonic stage, nomadic yet with purpose. He covered is lion's mane with the hood of his cape, a signal of something to come. "Lay Low," leapt from his voice like a roar across the plains. I had hoped to hear this gift and thankfully it showed itself on the only night we attended. Near the end of the set the band  welcomed out Eric Johnson of the Fruit Bats, who had opened the show and played quite well. With an additional vocalist onstage My Morning Jacket dug deep into their quiver of tricks, pulling out a golden arrow. We all marveled, and many of us roared, at the cover they chose, "Oh! Sweet Nuthin." It was unexpected and Lou Reed would have been proud. The Waterfall tour was primarily focused on their own material. Covers had been almost nonexistent throughout most of their shows. I guess the third night of a three night run in San Francisco tends to bring out the best. Bringing the set to rest was "Run Thru." The It Still Moves song was a gas guzzling rock opera that knew only one speed. 

The Jacket would return for a five song encore. "Wordless Chorus" got us going again and gave me new energy. The ensuing tracks were an unbroken version of, "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream part 1 & 2." Hearing those two songs bridged by a live jam was stellar. They kept the throw down going with a filthy "Cobra." Only one song remained and many of those who had attended multiple nights seemed to know what was coming. In a night that felt like I was in Gotham, the dark knight and his vigilantes granted us "One Big Holiday." Spectacular spectacular. For more on the Jacket click here.

War of the Worlds | Graton | October 30th
A more-than-honorable mention needs to go out to the Pegasus Theater Co. of Sonoma County. Their reenactment of War of the Worlds was phenomenal. They produced a two week run of shows at the Graton Community Center that was engaging and creative. They took inspiration from the original broadcast, as well as from some of the reported news from the era. We attended the opening night on the Friday before Halloween, which happened to be the exact anniversary (77 years) of the authentic radio broadcast. The small cast and live Foley artist were so good. Thanks for a truly magical night.

Ron Thompson and his Resistors at the Tomales Town Hall | October 31st
We may as well have been cast for the reboot of Back to the Future because this show was an all-out assault of 50's rock, set amongst the confines of a sleepy town in foggy west Marin. There were plenty of blues-steeped riffs cascading within the Town Hall. Built in 1874, this idyllic community post is one of the oldest, continuously used public spaces in California. We live just a hop, skip and a jump away.

Ron is a master keyboardist with an penchant for rhythm and blues guitar work. He cut his teeth back in the 70's playing East San Francisco bars. He is most well known for his long tenured touring with John Lee Hooker. Not only was he the band leader for Hooker, Thompson has played with the likes of Tina Turner, Booker T., Etta James and B.B. King.

On this magical Halloween night we met up with a dear friend and could not have been happier with our choice of fiendish festivities. Not only was this a costume party with a full bar and a spread of munchies, the likes of which I have never seen at a concert, it was a benefit for the building. Good causes and ghoulishly good times are too good to be true, or are they? We went as vampires, freshly turned to the dark side. I didn't know every song he played that night, which was refreshing, but they all felt familiar. The standards he was sharing are America. It is the realization that our Nation's historic and artistically rich music will always stand the test of time. It's honesty will be unflappable. That's what he and his Resistors gave us for Halloween, it was all treat, no trick.

Here are some of the facts I do remember as we danced our vampire asses off. During a lengthy first set he played an infectious "Hand Jive," sang the words to "Suzy Q" over the riffs of what sounded like, "Smokestack Lightning," and played a ripping song that resembled, "Who Do You Love." At the start of the second set Ron welcomed to the stage a local harp player, who had some chops, or should I say pipes? The high point of this set for me was another tune that had a riff similar to "Heartbreak Hotel." Set number three got under way with an awesome, "Boom Boom," a classic from John Lee Hooker. They rocked pretty hard for a bit and then went back to songs that were straight out of the greatest jukebox. Standards such as, "She's Some Kind of Wonderful," "Baby, Please Don't Go," and "Oh Well," were just blasting us with good old fashioned rock and roll. As the hits kept coming I hoped secretly that they would play all night, or at least until we dropped. Eventually the night did come to an end musically, as Ron and his Resistors wailed away at the timeless track, "Rumble." Link Wray first recorded this fuzzed out song in '58. Pulp Fiction helped to reintroduce this gem of reverb back into the world. Some say it's the first song cut to wax to use reverb. At the end of this personal motion picture we were fortunate enough to meet Ron as he needed help loading up his gear. I was more than willing to help out. Agent M. and I thanked him for coming to our sleepy little neck of the woods. He too seemed thankful. We had all been bitten. 

Mr. Salty's stomp of approval goes to Father John Misty, Houndmouth, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, My Morning Jacket, and Ron Thompson with his Resistors. The last two rocked and He loved rockin' out. The Roo ratings will always have a home on the BESTY's. Thanks to all the musicians, Agent M. and Pip, for filling this year with fun.

Happy New Year,



Saturday, December 19, 2015

PUBlication: The Garden

The Garden Taproom in Community Market is quite the hideout. Situated in the Barlow of Sebastopol, this beer garden has an array of quality craft beer. On my most recent visit I was inundated with a slough of good choices, both on draught and in the bottle. Below is a brief recap of the brews I was able to enjoy with a couple of tasting notes.

Rogue Brewing | Good Chit (Farmed Pilsner) | 4.6% & 45 IBUs
Rogue, like Sierra Nevada, has been farming on a scale that allows them to craft some beers sourced entirely from their own agricultural doing—pretty cool. The first thing I noticed were notes of lemon zest and natural graininess. A nice foamy head blankets the top of this easy drinker. My only criticism would be that it was a little flat. I want more effervescence from a Pilsner.

The Bruery | Mischief (hoppy Belgian/golden strong ale) | 8.4%
This concoction possesses a soft cloudiness and pretty color. The slight sour taste is sedated by hops. Banana and culinary spice is prevalent in the nose. This is the second time I've tasted from The Bruery, and thus far, I'm a bit underwhelmed considering the praise they receive. 

Plow Brewing | OX DIPA | 8%
Plow is one of the recent breweries to open its doors in Santa Rosa, they're producing some tasty IPAs and Pilsners. This particular batch of the OX was better than earlier editions in my opinion. The nose was far more floral and less malty than in the past. It settled nicely on the palate, smoother than I had remembered, more balanced.

Alpine Brewing | Pure Hoppiness | 8%
Damn Good. This DIPA exemplifies the craft of creating a hop-bomb that is potent, palatable and carbonated. It's clarity cannot go unnoticed, think Russian River or Knee Deep. Carbonation floats upward while your snout celebrates the hops at every turn. Alpine usually knocks their beer out of the park, this was no exception. Pure Hoppiness is another great reminder that California IPA's and West Coast hopping is here to stay. Cheers.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Faded Gloryville

Lindi Ortega released her most recent album, Faded Gloryville, in early August. This is my first exposure to her music and her voice. Lindi and her band mates do a great job of blending outlaw country sounds with the blast of 50's rock and roll. Lyrically she embraces a wide spectrum of truths, love and self awareness. "I Ain't the Girl," harbors the same sentiment as Dylan's, "It Ain't Me Babe," with a snappier twang. Other songs feel as though they were lured from a bottle, full of honky-tonk word play; listen to "Run-down Neighborhood." They push toward the hop of original rocking and rolling on, "Run Amok"—while she sings of those sinful ways that push us to do wrong, the rhythm section plays with pace, aided by some slick guitar work. There are a handful of breaks in the action when her singing definitely embraces the slow subtleties of country western music. The lone cover on Faded and the track that hooked me initially is, "To Love Somebody." For more information on Lindi and her music click here

Lindi Ortega | "To Love Somebody" 


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

PUBlication: Six Pack

mmm beer
I began writing about my beer obsession last year, so I'll continue on with it. As before, I will be ranking my favorite ales of the year that were either new to the market as a whole or simply, new to me. The list below will showcase my six pack of preferred libations. There will also be an additional little something for those that need to get their fix more regularly—not all of my faves are so easy to get your hands on. The more readily accessible shall be called, bottles and cans. Have fun this holiday season and enjoy these craft beers responsibly. Cheers.

Laurelwood Brewing Co. | Portland, OR | Workhorse IPA
Thankfully my cousin brought me down one of the more epic beers from Oregon. Workhorse is a former national champion IPA. Hops and malts meld to make an aromatic medley. This is a delicious ale worth finding and drinking. Don't age this one, just consume it. 7.5% | 80 IBUs

Kern River Brewing Co. | Kernville, CA | Just Outstanding IPA
Perhaps the most remote brewery on this year's list comes from Kernville, California. Kern River Brewing crafts an absurdly good IPA, so good, that it's aptly named Just Outstanding. This is one of the few India pale ales that embraces delicate smoothness. Thanks to my fairy hop-father who brought me back one from his beer journey south. 6.8%

Tap It Brewing | San Luis Obispo, CA | IPA
There is no name needed to further elaborate on this IPA. Tap It Brewing simply labels their IPA with those three letters. A Tropical nose opens up to a more fruit-forward flavor. If you're a hop lover, get your hands on this beer and drink it fresh. 7% | 70 IBUs

Hen House Brewing Co. | Petaluma\Santa Rosa, CA | IPA (Tropical)
Locally brewed and new to the scene, Hen House is upping their game as they continue to brew elaborate ales of all kind. I was able to enjoy this ale at The Garden in Community Market, it's great when your local grocer has a taproom—kegs of this beast went out in early October. The brewer's notes call this IPA, brewed with Pacific Jade, Chinook and El Dorado hops, a tropical fruit city7.9%

Russian River Brewing | Santa Rosa, CA | Ales for ALS & Hop 2 It Comet
Ales for ALS is an IPA brewed by Russian River that benefits the ALS Therapy Development Institute. This is a pub-only draft that is brewed with Citra, Mosaic, and experimental hops, HBC 291, 436, 366, and 344. This IPA was full of fresh exciting flavors, I'm thankful I had some. 6.4%

Hop 2 It (Comet) is a single hop ale that rotates hops each time it is brewed. Usually brewed from experimental hops from the Northwest that are so new that they are labeled with only numbers (see above). This batch however was made with Comet hops and thus the namesake. Of all the Hop 2 It's, Comet has been my favorite. 5.8%

Fulton Brewing Co. | Minneapolis, MN | Lonely Blonde
Once a year I tend to find myself in Minnesota hanging out with my brother-in-law as he begins to educate me on the finer ales and brewers within the burgeoning Twin Cities brew scene. Fulton Brewing Company was a newcomer to my world. I had it on draft a Matt's, home of the OG Jucy Lucy, it paired quite well with a burger and basket of fries. I also had my share via the six packs that my family had stocked. The Land of 10,000 Lakes has amazing fresh water, duh—no wonder the beer is good. The Lonely Blonde may just be the best American Blonde on the market right now. 4.8% | 29 IBUs

Looking for something to take home? Bottles and cans and just clap your hands...
Citrus Mistress | Hop Valley | 6.5%  80 IBUs
Hops of Wrath | Dust Bowl | 6.6% 50 IBUs
Soul Style | Green Flash | 6.5% 75 IBUs
Pinner | Oskar Blues | 4.9% 35IBUs

Happy Holidays,


Monday, November 23, 2015

PUBlication: Celebration

PUBlication: Celebration 
Each winter I look forward to many things, like eating a ton of holiday food, going to the mountains for snow, and searching out my favorite seasonal beers. Sierra Nevada is a staple among the craft brewing world; yet to sell out (amidst a rash of recent buyouts) and still producing new magic like the Estate grown organic IPA, they haven't lost their touch. However, it's the return of their cornerstone seasonal ale that has me stoked.

Of course I'm speaking about Celebration, the must-have bottled conditioned fresh hop IPA they've been brewing since 1981. Most ales only attempt to mesh the sweetness of malt to the piney and citrus notes of hops, Sierra Nevada has mastered it. Chinook, Cascade and Centennial hops swirl among the Two-row Pale and Caramel malts to create both a smooth and complex taste. When poured, a medium to heavy head forms over the sun-laced amber and melted caramel-like hue of the nectar below. The first whiff is nuanced with a dank candied nose. Subtle sweetness hits the tongue first, followed by a bitterness that registers the rest of the way down. I know our household has already consumed more than a half-rack. Tis the season. Look for Celebration on tap and in the bottle during this festive time of year. 6.8% | 65 IBUs


Friday, November 20, 2015


American money and Tennessee honey sounds good coming from the voice of Børns, a Michigander who found his way to LA to record his first album. Dopamine was released a little over a month ago. Catchy riffs and some nearly immaculate vocals are timeless staples for any pop song, he's crafted an album of melodies braided to lyricism. Dopamine is a conduit between 80's synth-pop and the undertones that are shaping the shoe-gazing sub genre of indie rock. Think one part Tame Impala, a dose of Alt-J and a dash of Lorde (I hope that concoction doesn't dissuade). Highlights on this eleven track offering include, "Electric Love," "American Money," and "Holy Ghost." Maybe you have tickets to the sold out show at The Independent in San Francisco this Sunday. Enjoy.

BØRNS | "American Money"


Monday, November 16, 2015

Unc Unc

He's back, at least as Uncle Drew, to get buckets and teach young-bloods. Miami sets the scene for a shootout against Walt (aka Ray Allen). The two of them duel in a classic game of HORSE making this fourth installment worth the watch. Peep the sweet Kyrie 1 sneakers, they're limited to 150 pairs. I'm loving the gum rubber soles, super clean. Basketball never stops.

Uncle Drew | Chapter 4


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

So Good So Far 2015

So Good So Far 2015
Time flies when you're having fun, or when you're super busy. Music tends to be the soothsayer in our neck of the woods. Regardless of the situation there tends to be a musical companion for the moment. Earlier this summer I listed the first half of my favorite albums that had been released. Here's the second installment of tunes that I cannot yet wear out. Thanks to all of the musicians who have enriched this calendar year with ear candy. The selections preceded by an asterisk are my top five. So Good So Far 2015...

*Leon Bridges | Coming Home
Has he taken over yet? That voice, the sound, his attire, White Denim backing him, the beauty of it all keeps streaming out like an endless landscape. What his album has done is escape time; it's purely a creation. The title track brought him fame, yet other cuts such as, "Better Man" and "River" have kept me coming back for more. Anticipation and patience is in order for his sophomore effort.


*Anderson East | Delilah
Some of the album comes at you with a sharp snappiness, akin to R&B, but the blade that does the cutting are his lyrics. Plunging into you with his awareness, his words pierce with the truth of having gone through what he is penning. Delilah is a reminder that pain is an artery and the heart its source. Anderson acknowledges the mistakes he's made and in doing so, he is both the heavy hand and the healing poet. Songs such as, "What a Women Wants to Hear" and "Lying in Her Arms," capture this dichotomy with scalpel-like precision.  

"Only You"

*Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats | Self Titled Debut Album
This outfit proves that melding different sounds and influences into one coherent portrayal is possible. A greasy country sound backed by a soulful brass section and fronted by a man who can belt it, if not howl it, is a match made in American music heaven. The Night Sweats have been one of my personal favorites this year. The Blues Brothers and Neil Diamond seemingly patched this musical Frankenstein especially for me. "S.O.B." brought them into the spotlight but they are not a one-trick pony. 

The entire album is reminiscent of what Levon tells Scorsese in The Last Waltz, "bluegrass and country music...if it comes down into that area and if it mixes there with the rhythm and if it dances, then you've got a combination of all that music." Scorsese asks, "What's it called?" Levon replies, "rock and roll." Denver just might be the new city for having a good time; I think they've got a hometown band ready to lead the charge.

"Howling at Nothing"

Dead Weather | Dodge & Burn
The Dead Weather replaces trickery with an assault of intensity and skill, a collection of talent can do that—some musicians simply know how to rock. Third Man Records created a limited edition release for Vault members which fueled my excitement for this album. For those of us who like to rock out once in awhile this record is relentless, fuzzy and awesome. They hit you from the start with the opener, "I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)." Then there's, "Let Me Through," which is rough around the edges in all the right ways. Hearing Mosshart sing, "I'm a bad man, let me through," isn't a request, it's a demand.

"Cop and Go"

Jonathan Tyler | Holy Smokes
There's a type of music that exists again due to a wealth of phenomenal young artists that don't always get radio play. Jonathan Tyler embraces that quality and others in his music. Country, soaked at times in some reverb, is a good thing. The first track, "Hallelujah," colors outside the lines of traditional country with a cool garage-like sound. The second offering takes you down an entirely different path (listen below). In a nod to Townes, Jonathan teams up with Nikki Lane on, "To Love is to Fly," an honest offering of wordplay, sung over the weeping of a pedal steel guitar. This is a great album more people should be listening to.

"Goin' Down to the City"

Jack Broadbent | Along the Trail of Tears
Along the Trail has songs that hang heavy with meaning, like over-ripened fruit bending limbs that lend support. The song below embodies that sentiment. Pace does change throughout the album. "Big Black Boat" has a knack for making you tap your toes in approval. "Far Off Galaxy" is etched from the Blues, as is much of the record. Along the Trail of Tears feels like it was made for whiskey on the front porch or the back forty with a bonfire blazing. All of that sounds good to me.


My baker's dozen consists of the six artists from above as well as: *Father John Misty, I Love You Honeybear | Matthew E. White, Fresh Blood | Tobias Jesso Jr., Goon *Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color | Houndmouth, Little Neon Limelight | Lord Huron, Strange Trails | My Morning Jacket, The Waterfall

Honorable Mentions: Beach House (x2), Lana Del Rey, Rayland Baxter, Wilco. (second half of 2015)

Thanks for checking in and reading my rabble. Fortunately this year I have had the pleasure of seeing a handful of these great acts live. Speaking of live shows, The BESTY's are coming, an annual run-down of my favorite live performances. 


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Muscle Shoals

Muscle Shoals is a recording mecca. This rural community along the Tennessee River in North Alabama cut some of the deepest grooves in music by creating a culture that would change the recording industry forever, while simultaneously helping to change our nation's outlook on segregation. Pretty impressive for some white guys who looked as though they worked at the local grocery store. Rick Hall and The Swampers changed the world with their Muscle Shoals Sound. They made more than music, they made history.

Muscle Shoals | Official Trailer

(currently streaming on Netflix)


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

War of the Worlds

Pegasus Theater Co. | War of the Worlds
It was 77 years ago (this Friday) that the radio broadcast of H.G. Wells tale, The War of the Worlds, sent the American public into a frenzy. Martians invading New Jersey would do that. Whether the accounts of said hysteria were exaggerated or not, it stirs thought and conversation still today. With Halloween steadily approaching, The Pegasus Theater Company is presenting a mixed media play at the Graton Community Club on October 30th and 31st. This one-of-a-kind production will be based off of the 1938 radio script as well as the reported panic. A live Foley artist creating sound effects, seven actors and mixed media art will comprise the evening's surrealistic-like setting. Tickets are $15 on Friday and pay-what-you-can on Halloween. These type of artistic happenings help to enrich local community and provide a form of entertainment that is in contrast to our digital short term attention spans. See you at the performance.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

PUBlication: Son of Wrath

PUBlication: Son of Wrath
Let's raise a glass to those with hops, basketball players, Pip our bunny, or double IPA's that make you taste what you're drinking. Dust Bowl Brewing out of Turlock, CA has been crafting a super line of beers. The Therapist, Hops of Wrath, Hobo Pilsner and Stout are all delicious within their distinct genre. Recently my first Son of Wrath was had, a double IPA that I'd been waiting to indulge in. I love that Dust Bowl Brewing features a rabbit as part of their iconic branding. I have a huge soft spot for Lagomorphs (aka rabbits, hares and pikas). With that said this robust DIPA packs a late punch into a malt backed, five hop medley.

Son of Wrath has a remarkably soft nose considering that Galaxy, Centennial and Columbus hops make up the majority of the hop-bill. There is a delicately thin head that appears briefly before disappearing almost entirely. The color resembles an orange-like, melted caramel. Up front the taste is milder than expected—most likely due to the malt profile balancing amidst the hops. Brace yourself however for the late hitting bitterness on the back end. Turn it wrong side up, responsibly. The Son of Wrath is both smooth and wild, just like a rabbit. 9.5 % | 92 IBUs


Monday, October 19, 2015

Elvis Costello | Radio Silence

Elvis Costello | Nourse Theater | Oct. 22nd
Radio Silence is supplying the host, Public Radio is offering up the audio and Elvis Costello will be the personality doing the capturing. The City Arts & Lectures series is co-presenting Mr. Costello with Dan Stone from Radio Silence on October 22nd at 7:30pm. 

The Nourse Theater appears as an atmosphere almost too beautiful, setting the tone for engaging intellectualism. This type of inspired escape keeps us in the moment, away from the busy hustle of modern life. It makes us shut off our digital distractions. Join Elvis Costello for a night of banter that is sure to trigger the senses. Tickets are still available for this event. 


Friday, October 16, 2015

The Association

LeBron James is gunning for the title.
The Association is gearing up for another scintillating season. Opening night is October 27th and on the slate will be Bulls vs. Cavs, Pistons vs. Hawks and Warriors vs. Pelicans. There are plenty of questions coming into the season that will surely get answered along the way. Below is a host of topics that I'm interested in paying attention to throughout the  NBA grind. 

Can the Warriors repeat? Will LeBron make it to a sixth straight Finals (which would be insane)? Can teams like Miami, Indiana and Utah make it back into the playoff mix? Will Minnesota make a leap with its youth movement tethered to veterans? How will Aldridge fit in with the Spurs and will the Trailblazers thus slide in the standings? How will Hoiberg and Donovan do coaching pro teams with high expectations? Can Bosh, Durant, Paul George, Kyrie and Love all recapture their peak form? Is D. Rose made of glass? Will the Bucks surprise in the East? Is the Brow ready to take over in the West with a new coach? Who takes home The Larry O'Brien Trophy?

There are of course many more storylines to follow as they unfold. The West will once again be a gauntlet, the East is improving and every team needs health to have a chance. I'll take my chances with LeBron. My playoff predictions for each conference below are listed alphabetically by division. Only in the NBA.

East: Boston, Toronto, Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Atlanta, Miami, Washington

West: Golden State, LA Clippers, Oklahoma City, Utah, Houston, Memphis, New Orleans, San Antonio


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

PUBlication: Enjoy By 10.31.15

PUBlication: Enjoy By 10.31.15
This is a true hop bomb with multitudes of varietals as well as additional stages of hopping throughout the brewing process. There are too many types of hops from both the northern and southern hemisphere to name, just scan the QR image on the bottle. Pouring this fresh IPA you'll notice a heady foam trying to sedate its resinous smell. There are some fruity notes lingering amidst the musty aroma. My tasting partner nailed it with declaring how dry it is regardless of the ingredient list. The mushroom cloud of hops is validated by a prominent flavor profile and noticeable effect—this remarkable IPA induces what can only be called a beer high. Stone Brewing Company has hit this Enjoy By batch out of the park. There is no hiding from this beer or it strength in hops. Enjoy By 10.31.15 is waiting to be had and there isn't much time. 9.4% | 88 IBU's 


Friday, October 9, 2015

My Morning Jacket

My Morning Jacket | Waterfall Tour 
My Morning Jacket is stampeding toward the Bay area, steadily gaining steam while on tour to support their latest album The Waterfall, which was recorded in Marin. San Francisco will play host for three nights, second only to the four night stand at the Beacon in NYC. They have garnered a fair amount of praise throughout this current tour. Their most recent stop at Red Rocks was available to watch via simulcast, a first for the band. It was said to be a lively set in line with the epic NYE Fillmore shows from 2006 as well as the late night throw down at Bonnaroo in 2008. All of this hype is just kindling to stoke the flames for their run at The Masonic (October 15-17). We'll be attending the Saturday night finale which should be a fiery blitz of soul laden rock and roll. Tickets are still available and a bit pricier compared to past tours. Maybe the bear will appear again as he did in '06. See you at the show.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Third Man Records | Vault Package #26

The White Stripes
The first White Stripes record accessible to the masses came in 1999. Third Man Records has released the bait to their latest limited package. This Vault only release is titled, The Cass Corridor Collection: Live at the Gold Dollar Vol. III. This early show at Detroit's Gold Dollar is a vital piece to The White Stripes raw beginnings. Volumes I and II from this same Motor City bar were previously released on Vault #13.

Highlights from this February night include covers, "Stop Breaking Down" and "One More Cup of Coffee." Other songs showed up for the first time such as, "Suzy Lee" and "Astro." A medley near the end consisting of, "Cannon/John the Revelator/Grinnin' in Your Face," have me eagerly awaiting this vinyl. Sign up for your very own Vault membership and enjoy a plethora of audiophile goodies each quarter. Vault Package #26 includes a blood-red 180 gram record, a 7" Dead Weather single, a recreation of Jack's original flyer for the show, two glossy photos of the band and a hand-written set list, plus a Third Man Records enamel pin. I can't wait to get this Vault Package. Enjoy.


Friday, October 2, 2015

Brokedown Palace

Last night the Watkins Family Hour played an exceptional version of "Brokedown Palace." This classic tale is one of many gems amidst the crown jewel that is American Beauty. Thank you Mr. Hunter for drafting the piercing words to an all-time great story. The Family Hour's musical arrangement does "Palace" a supreme justice—harkening back to the scene at Wally's studio. That Americana feel with deeply rooted emotion will always have a place in my world, perhaps yours too. In the spirit of Bay area music, past and present, here's to a musically inspired weekend. Click on the links for live streaming of Austin City Limits and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, both festivals begin today. Fare thee well. 

Watkins Family Hour | "Brokedown Palace"

PS. This track appears on the debut album from Watkins Family Hour. They are not at ACL or HSBF.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Dream Big Live Small

Cabin Life
Bigger is not better. Recent articles by the New York Times have shone light on the inspirational power of living smaller. A concept that is by no means new is finding a rebirth of sorts for those who are willing and able to downsize and thus, eliminate distractions. Our running joke for years has been, clean living. Whether you own or are renting there are many paths to take when choosing where to live and how. These major decisions tend to dictate lifestyle. I for one truly believe that our time and daily interactions are worth far more than a paycheck. Sensations that mean something are powerful. Finding gratification in doing things you love or by spending real time with loved ones are invaluable treasures of living. "Cabins, the New American Dream," is a cleverly written piece on how some of us can live. Here's to being brave by going small.


Monday, September 28, 2015

Publication: Icy Bay IPA

Alaskan Brewing Co. | Icy Bay
Glacier water must help to create crispness because each of my senses were piqued by a bursting crisp quality. A colorful blast of sun is the best way to translate this good-looking IPA. The aroma brought to mind memories of the first time trying new fruit. Icy Bay's great color and nostalgic aroma crawl out from under an airy layer of foam. 

Apollo, Bravo, Cascade, Calypso and Summit hops create an elaborate arrangement with 2-Row and "specialty" malts. Reducing a six pack to zero is a legitimate concern—it paired well with our garden-grown, roasted vegetable chili. Try it with any dish that has a little kick. Icy Bay is an ample IPA rooted in the spirit of the journey. Alaskan Brewing Co. 6.2% | 65 IBUs


Friday, September 25, 2015

Thug Kitchen

Thug Kitchen serves up tasty recipes and on point humor—just watch the video (explicit language).

Thug Kitchen Cookbook


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

It's pert near time for the annual San Francisco free festival, better known as, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. Thanks to Mr. Hellman and his ongoing philanthropic estate for spoiling the Bay area with a trove of music each October. In anticipation of the event I've been checking in on the individual artists' sites to get a better idea of which day to attend. For all of the comments out there that moan about the belated release of the schedule; a) it's free and b) do a little homework or click on the hyperlinks. Now that I'm done with that...

When Hardly Strictly was in its infancy I couldn't get enough, now I brave the masses for only one day. Choosing which day is dictated by the artists I'm most interested in seeing. More often than not Gillian Welch and David Rawlings are at the top of said list. Having seen them a bunch of times, I will probably pass on their Saturday offering. The other acts I'm intrigued by or have yet to see, play on Sunday. So I'll be making my way into Golden Gate Park for my own version of church.

Sunday it is. Hopefully there won't be too many conflicting set times. Here's a list of who I'm interested in (the first three are personal faves): Anderson East, Neko Case, Devotchka, Mandolin Orange, Charles Bradley, and The Blind Boys of Alabama. It's pretty amazing that six of the ten performers I had initially marked to see play on the same day. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is well worth the effort and it's free. Enjoy the tracks below. 

Anderson East | "Satisfy Me"

Neko Case | "Night Still Comes"

Devotchka | "The Winner Is"


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Future Islands @ The Fox

New music always has potential, it's whether or not it's stimulating. Future Islands is capitalizing on that power as they posses the ability to command attention. Earlier this spring they released, "The Chase." This single put words around the questionable momentum of a relationship. There's still that  recognizable whirl of melodic redundancies that help to cool the senses—a helpful contrast to the theatrical delivery of the vocals. The B side, "Haunted By You," reaches at companionship or interaction, like feeling your way in the dark. The surroundings may be familiar, but not without hazard. Future Islands play September 25th at the Fox Theater in Oakland. Enjoy the clip below.

Future Islands | "The Chase"


Monday, September 14, 2015

PUBlication: Alpha Centauri

Alpha Centauri | Hop Valley
The first brewery to get two PUBlication reviews is Hop Valley, one of the many craft beer establishments in Eugene and one of my personal favorites. Alpha Centauri is their Imperial IPA, the big brother to Alphadelic. This "Binary IPA" was far more delicate on the nose than expected. It possesses a nice level of carbonation, an unheralded trait that can make or break an ale. My partner in crime called it, "strangely effervescent." A bubbly white foam caps the almost school bus yellow hue. 

The entire interaction on the palette is much softer than the alcohol by volume would have you assume. Which makes this Imperial kind of dangerous. It's smooth going down with a slight bite in the aftertaste. Full of flavor and bursting with Oregon hops, this is a crisp IPA with a clean malt profile. Look for Alpha Centauri in 22oz bottles at your local market, or look to the heavens. 9% | 100 IBUs


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Russian River Blues Festival

First of all Taj Mahal is going to be there. Second, it's on the Russian River in the Redwoods. Third, there's a beach and tickets are reasonably priced. The Russian River Jazz and Blues Festival is celebrating 39 years of music this weekend. Temperatures in the Redwood Empire have been sweltering as of late, hopefully the forecast for the weekend holds true and the mercury will drop. Guerneville's the spot for a weekend of soaking up some sun, cooling off in the river or just getting your musical fix. The lineup includes War, Jackie Greene, Taj Mahal Trio, Buddy Guy and more. Keep in mind that Saturday focuses more on jazz and Sunday is all about the blues. Enjoy.

Taj Mahal | "Leavin Trunk"


Friday, September 11, 2015

20th Street Block Party

There's going to be a pretty righteous block party in San Francisco on September 12th. This neighborhood bash runs from 12pm-6pm. Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, a favorite of mine, are headlining the event. The 20th Street Block Party is free, so get there early in order to claim  some real estate and catch the other acts. You may want to consider biking into the event. The 20th Street corridor will showcase San Francisco restaurants, businesses and artists in a celebration of their stomping grounds. In the Mission between Bryant and Harrison.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

PUBlication: Double Liberty

Double Liberty IPA | Argonaut Collection
Hot temperatures are always tough to bear, grabbing a cold beer can help to ease the heat. If you're looking for a new option, try Anchor Brewing. America's first craft beer company is still pulling off new tricks. They recently began brewing their Argonaut Collection. One of these limited releases is the Double Liberty IPA (sold as a four pack). The label is beautiful thanks to the hand-drawn art of Jim Stitt. Spring 2015 marked the first time this double IPA was brewed and it might already be out of circulation. It's worth your effort if found. 

Leaving the bottle this double pours apricot in color. A robust foam rises to the top. Below the froth lies a fresh subtlety. You can smell how balanced it is. The body appears heavier, it's a bit maltier than a typical DIPA. The malt base is 2-Row Pale, which melds nicely with the Cascade hops. There isn't one overly-menacing trait. It may be a bit sweet for some hop heads but don't let it fool you, it's still bitter. This palatable beast from Anchor is a rare breed, drink responsibly. 8.2% | 90 IBUs


Monday, September 7, 2015

Night Sweats @ The Chapel

Get ready to get sweaty, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats are coming to the mission, on a mission. Drinks will be needed and I recommend bringing your dancing shoes. Their self-titled album has them touring the world, but before they head to Europe they're making sold-out stops across the U.S. One of those hard-to-get-tickets-to shows is at The Chapel in San Francisco, September 9th. Brace yourself for some good old-fashioned soul, swinging, American music. Happy Labor Day.

Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats | "S.O.B."


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Anderson East: Delilah

A little less than a month ago, Anderson East released Delilah, an album that possesses sonic diversity and poignant lyricism. Initially the songs start out swinging, energized with the snap of R&B. Soulful keys and backing vocals help to shape, "Devil In Me" and "All I Ever Need." These tracks feel inspired, moving from opposing corners like prize fighters dealing with cause and effect. Channeling his inner Ryan Adams on, "What a Woman Wants to Hear," Anderson embraces the buzz of being emotionally punch-drunk. This song is the hornet and the salve, it stings then soothes. He found a way to explain something we've all felt. 

'Wanna talk about tomorrow like it's a real thing. See you when it comes down next spring. Whisper nothings in your ear—I'll tell you what a woman, tell you what a woman wants to hear.' 

Bringing the record to a close is, "Lying in Her Arms," another heartrending number that is painted in truthful pain. Steeped in Nashville's alt-country, his words are fixed to the one he can never forget. You can hear the tremble in his voice. If you want to actually feel music, listen to this song.  

Anderson East | "Lying in Her Arms"

Anderson East | "What a Woman Wants to Hear"


Friday, August 28, 2015

PUBlication: Mosaic IPA

St. Archer Brewery | Mosaic IPA
St. Archer has released a limited batch of their Mosaic IPA, a testament to their capabilities and the mosaic hop varietal. This double IPA is filled with lush impressions throughout the experience—there's no denying the hop-forward intensity. It possesses an aroma that  demands snouting out the pint glass. This is one of the most palatable double IPA's of the summer. Initially it comes across as mean, but settles into a friendly beast.

How they brewed this with such clean and refreshing characteristics without sacrificing bitterness is impressive. Each taste made me want to drink more. The 'bite' is all on the tongue. The precision of the hop medley, which includes Amarillo, Simcoe and Chinook, is lavishly layered. It is the Mosaic varietal that the spotlight shines brightest upon. Its sticky fruit and citrus notes are the most rousing. The copper clarity invites you in, as the light pillow of carbonated foam further encourages. Having a flavor profile that is both punchy and refined makes it even more alluring. How is it capable of being so deliberate, as well as, so delicate? I guess you call it double trouble. If you see this beer, buy it. There are no mistakes in the Mosaic IPA from St. Archer9%


Monday, August 24, 2015

Dodge & Burn

The Dead Weather are capable of many things, rocking out happens to stand at the front of the line. Their music blasts harder than anything this side of metal, without diluting the talented musicianship that creates said sound scape. Also, why would anyone want to stifle Alison's voice? Dodge & Burn, their latest release, features 12 tracks and is available September 25th. They recently gave us a look-see at one of the upcoming tracks. This visual component is a reminder of just how visceral this band can get. With no tour yet planned, one can only hope they take this show on the road. Until then, check out Third Man Records.

The Dead Weather | "I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)" | Dodge & Burn


Friday, August 21, 2015

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
The Night Sweats and front man Nathaniel Rateliff are on a bender, soaked in rousing music, truthful soul and some drinking. Currently on tour, with many of their stops already sold out (aided greatly by a recent television debut on The Tonight Show), try to catch them if you can. Earlier this summer they gave away a three-track EP featuring "S.O.B." and some live cuts. Later they started pitching some singles. Today marks the release of a self titled album that I encourage everyone to pick up. 

Having put out two solo records and an EP, this isn't Nathaniel's first rodeo. The Night Sweats however help to transform his music, cocooning his candid words with their energy. Some of the material showing up on, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, has surfaced during their live sets for awhile now. This tends to pay dividends as the songs get a chance to breathe and change in an atmosphere only concerts can create. It also usually means that the band is tight heading into the studio having already cut their teeth on tour. 

They play locally on September 9th at The Chapel in San Francisco, sorry it's sold out. Below is a clip of them performing a track off their new album, enjoy.

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats | Howling At Nothing


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

PUBlication: Breaking Bud

Knee Deep Brewing Co.
Oh Knee Deep, thank you for unleashing unabashed hops to the faithful IPA drinkers of Northern California and beyond. Auburn is home to one of my favorite breweries—I need to make it up there to relish the bounty first hand. Until then, I'll just keep enjoying the selection of 22oz bottles at my local market.

There are a plethora of hop-forward beers being brewed by Knee Deep. Breaking Bud is a new school IPA with a classic profile. It settles into the glass with great clarity. It's golden-orange color is topped by a white foam. The first thing you notice is the lush aroma, evoking tropical fruits and sticky hops. 

It starts off easy up front on the palette. The exacting bitterness hits you on the back end, yet rounds off into a softer edge at the finish. Mosaic, Simcoe and CTZ hops create sheets of flavor, both strong and calm. A dash of crystal malt, with a healthy measure of wheat flakes, add crispness and intricacy to the ale. When you're standing there staring at the multitude of beer options, look for Breaking Bud, it doesn't disappoint, guaranteed. 6.5% | 50 IBUs


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Local Flavor | Music Review

This past week had a plethora of options to be distracted by. There was Outside Lands and the accompanying late night shows, I would have liked to see Wilco, Leon Bridges and D'Angelo. Instead, there were those of us in the North Bay that were treated to some other affordable options (and by affordable I mean free). 

The Mother Hips | Cloverdale
Last Friday we made our almost-weekly pilgrimage to Cloverdale for The Mother Hips. Tim Bluhm and company were hitting on all cylinders, this was one of the better shows I've seen from them. Greg Loiacono was on fire, his guitar licks seem to prevail throughout the night. "Freed From Prison" had a Bowie vibe. Other songs felt steeped in honky tonk blues. Greg took "Do It On the Strings," to another level with some impressive guitar work. On the next track, "Clean Me Up," they blended some nifty drumming with some fiery Wah-Wah to elicit a sound reminiscent of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Multiple people mentioned that this was their favorite song of the night. "White Falcon Fuzz" got the crowd rocking once more as the interplay between the two guitarist created good sound and strong emotion. They wanted to go out ripping as the last two songs of the set were heavy in anthem-like rock tones. The encore gave us a couple more, the finale was a dirty (in a good way) and bluesy infused burner, "Stoned Up..."

St. Paul & the Broken Bones | Lagunitas
On Monday we made our way to Lagunitas for their super secret show. This Year's surprise band was St. Paul and the Broken Bones. This soulful outfit from Birmingham is the truth. Church-like is an understatement. Lacing covers in and out of their own material seamlessly, this seven piece doesn't make mistakes, they make good times. The first cover of the night was Sam Cooke's "Shake." They followed that with a down-tempo version of the title track "Half the City." After "Broken Bones & Pocket Change" they went for the Wilson Pickett Standard, "99 and a Half." As the night wore on you could see the energy inside the mini-amphitheatre pick up. The Broken Bones jumped into a string of songs that made me feel the love. "Let It Be So" and "Down in the Valley" featured Paul's gospel-like vocals and the spot-on snap of the horn section. The main set came to a close with a Tom Waits cover, "Make It Rain,"—if only our parched state could get some. Then came the encore. Beginning with a Motown version of David Bowie's "Moonage Daydream," they created a new song from another world, one that would have made Ziggy Stardust proud. Next came Otis Redding's "I've Been Loving You..." which was just what the shaman ordered. They dropped in "Call Me," before going all Beatles on us with a rousing, "I Want You (She's So Heavy)." One thing's for sure, I wanted more so bad. Rarely do you see a band tackle such a diverse catalog of songs. As the congregation left the service, there was a unified feeling, satiated in the soulful delivery from a band that's sure to deliver a sermon. Thanks to St. Paul, the Broken Bones and Lagunitas for taking me to the holy land, if only for a couple of hours.