Reviews

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John Mailander is skilled at crafting a story through music.  His latest release, “Forecast” has been a Godsend piece of mana in my playlist this winter. Something about this disc hit me at the right time and place.  This winter has been such a baptism of tribulation, the tempo matches my soul. It gives me peace and hope for carrying on through the ice. I don’t mind the cold.

Progressive bluegrass pioneers, the Infamous Stringdusters rolled into Eugene (Ore.), January 20, and lit-up the McDonald Theater with a typically brilliant performance. This fire-breathing, five-piece combo’s relentless determination to Dust damn near every town in the country has honed their live show into one of the most reliably “hot” tickets on the thriving jam-band circuit. Every set is a high-flying adventure.

While San Francisco has a rich history in live music, few independent venues exist outside of music group monopolies such as Live Nation, Another Planet, Golden Voice (owned by AEG), or SF Jazz. All politics aside, it’s becoming less common for a medium-capacity venue to operate independently, likely related to hugely inflated rent/operations costs and radius clauses. Just last week Great American Music Hall and Slims relinquished booking rights to Golden Voice and laid off its loyal longtime staff.

Lucinda Williams played the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Saturday night with the Drive-By Truckers. It was actually a triple bill with Erika Wennerstrom of the Austin based Heartless Bastards opening the show with a solo acoustic set. Lucinda Williams, backed by her multi-talented touring band Buick 6, followed with Drive-By Truckers closing out the evening.

Greensky Bluegrass has been busy winding their way through a huge winter tour and tending to their new baby, studio album All for Money, released on January 18. This tour has featured three different opening acts, a fun treat for fans that will see multiple shows. Some of us in Boston knew we wouldn’t want to miss a Wednesday at the House of Blues with Billy Strings warming up and we sure did need warming up, with snow squalls and frigid temperatures sweeping through at show time.

The two rising collectives, The Kitchen Dwellers and Magic Beans, have set off on their first national tour together as “The Kitchen Beans,” and have been throughout the country. The Magic Beans and Kitchen Dwellers have had an escalating friendship for around ten years, playing numerous shows together and shining with their collaborative efforts.

Elton John’s three-year, 300-date world tour, dubbed “Farewell Yellow Brick Road,” which touched town in Sacramento on January 16, is a perfect testament of love and honor toward a man who created and has sustained his own unique pop-rock musical genre for 50 years. A true living legend and global icon, he has brightened the lives of countless millions, including Queen Elizabeth, who designated the performer with knighthood in 1998 for his dedication to music and fundraising for AIDS charities.

Elliott Peck’s debut solo project, “Further From The Storm,” received No. 1-with-a-bullet ranking from the sold-out audience at her recent CD-release event in San Rafael, Calif. Peck and her guest musicians triumphed, both in the first set, which contained live renderings of 10 of 11 tracks off the new record, and the second set, which as Peck foreshadowed at the show’s outset, “We’ll take a break and have a big ol’ party, Terrapin style!”

Last weekend, the historic Warfield in San Francisco hosted a special two nights in honor of the life and legacy of Jerry Garcia. It is fitting, as the storied 86-year old theater hosted Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia Band dozens of times and continued to book acts that bring an adventurous music spirit. One of the beloved guitarist and bandleader’s closest collaborators outside of Grateful Dead was organist Melvin Seals.

This past Tuesday night, in an event billed as the Jam Jar, northeastern jambands Eggy, Fondude and Peak rocked The Brooklyn Bowl three times over, giving the famed Williamsburg venue over four hours of spirited, creative live music.

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