musician. journalist. photographer.
jackson hole music blog

Therapy Q&A with The New Mastersounds

Posted on Jan 21, 2015

(this piece was published by Planet JH Weekly)
NewMastersounds_Collage

With the utmost respect for the pocket, English funk/jazz-fusion quartet The New Mastersounds have persevered the U.S. tour circuit for a decade now. They garner a high-degree of respect within an instrumental framework, putting them in fine company with The Meters, The Greyboy Allstars, and Soulive. Drummer and founding member Simon Allen gives us a glimpse into their headspace.

Aaron Davis: It’s striking to find out that Therapy is your 9th studio album…congrats! I saw one of your first shows here in Jackson Hole in 2008. There seems to be more of a vocal presence on this set compared to previous albums. What inspired this? How to you approach these songs live, without the vocalists?
Simon Allen: Thank you! We’ve used a few different guest vocalists on previous records. If, during the run up to making the record, we have encountered and performed with a singer who we get on well with and who inspires Eddie (Roberts, guitarist and producer), we tend to invite that person to collaborate on the writing and recording. On Therapy, Kim Dawson was the obvious choice as she had been up on stage with us several times during the 12 months before the recording session, and she’s from Denver, where we were making the record. We only perform Kim’s songs live when we’re lucky enough to have her guesting with us on the gig (she joined us for our late-night NOLA Jazzfest shows in 2014, for example). But we have other vocal tunes from further back in the catalog that we have either instrumentalized or attempted to sing ourselves. The group chant, “gang vocal” style works pretty well, which is a relief since none of us is going to win any singing awards individually!

AD: Do you find that having vocals as opposed to only instrumental music broadens your fanbase?
Allen: We try to include at least a couple of vocal elements in every set as it’s an important way to connect with the audience, but we’ve been trading as a mainly-instrumental band for the past fifteen years, and it’s in the USA where that seems to make most sense to the concert-going public. You have the cult of the musician over here [in England]–significant numbers of people will come out to watch people play their

Read More

Soul pop standout Marc Cohn

Posted on Jan 13, 2015

(this piece was published by Planet JH Weekly)

marc cohnWell-known for his 1991 adult contemporary hit “Walking in Memphis,” Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Marc Cohn has released five studio albums in his career. His most recent release, 2010’s Listening Booth: 1970 peaked at #28 on the Billboard 200 and is a set of covers ranging from Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Only Living Boy in New York” to the Grateful Dead’s “New Speedway Boogie.”

“My relationship with ‘Walking in Memphis’ was incredibly personal,” Cohn told Cleveland.com last October. “That’s really what’s at the center of that song: the power of the music, and that has never left me. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed playing it more than I have in the past few years. I really just feel proud that that’s my calling card.”

If you think a Grammy would change one’s life, imagine being conscious while a doctor removes a bullet from your head. Following a concert in 2005, Cohn and his band were driving back to their hotel in Denver when an attempted carjacking left him with a gunshot to the head. While his life was not threatened from the experience, the emotional toll was weighty. Four months later, though, he was thankful to be back on the road performing.

Inspired by reflections of Hurricane Katrina along with his own traumatic event, Cohn ended a near ten-year recording drought with 2007′s Join the Parade, one of his most critically acclaimed albums.

A devoted connoisseur of pop music, Cohn’s tenor croon is instantly recognizable. As a solo performer, he trades off between acoustic guitar and keyboards. Marc Cohn, 7 p.m. Monday at the Center Theater. $37-$47. JHCenterForTheArts.org.

Read More

Pinky at the Pink Garter

Posted on Jan 13, 2015

(this piece was published by Planet JH Weekly)

pinkyJackson is a magnet for tribute bands. Talking Heads, Metallica, Led Zeppelin, The Grateful Dead, AC/DC, and multiple Johnny Cash acts (Cash’d Out plays Friday at Town Square Tavern) have all found a home away from home in the Tetons. Why not some Pink Floyd tunes with a respectable light show? Bozeman’s nine-piece Pinky and the Floyd was conceptualized in 2007 featuring some of the town’s most talented players. With a songlist that boasts over sixty songs, you’ll get Syd Barrett-era to Division Bell, and a slice of both note-for-note and improvisational. So if you need a Floyd fix, you can finally get the bricks you need. Pinky and The Floyd, 9 p.m. Saturday at the Pink Garter Theatre. $17. PinkGarterTheatre.com.

Read More

Minor at the Moose

Posted on Jan 13, 2015

(this piece was published by Planet JH Weekly)

minorMinor—the husband-and-wife led indie-folk quintet from the Los Angeles area—instantly reminds this listener of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, yet with a less layered, acoustic-driven sound. The pseudo family band (only the rhythm section aren’t related to the others) has a sound defined by lead vocalist Justin Minor, with bluegrass-style harmonies adorned via his wife, Kate. The band formed in 2012 out of Justin’s “creative nervous breakdown,” which had led him to take an extended break from the music world to travel the jungles of Central and South America and the redwoods of California’s central coast. A refreshing sound, solid songwriting and singing, this is one to put on your radar. Minor, 9:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Mangy Moose in Teton Village. Free. MangyMoose.com.

Read More

Jason Boland & Cody Canada: Rollin’ in the Red Dirt

Posted on Jan 7, 2015

(this piece was published by Planet JH Weekly)

JasonBolandandTheStrangers

Jason Boland & The Strangers

If American Red Dirt and Texas Country are unfamiliar colors, leave it to Jason Boland & the Stragglers along with Cody Canada & the Departed to offer you a keen introduction. The two frontmen and friends that have toured together previously and share Oklahoma Red Dirt roots along with the American subculture of musical influences that came along with that scene. This heavyweight double-bill is a long time coming for 307 Live co-founder and Town Square Tavern talent buyer, Harper Hollis.

“I grew up listening to these bands and trying to sneak into their shows with a fake ID,” Hollis said. “I feel lucky to be bringing one of these bands to town, much less both of them on the same night.”

Boland and his Stragglers teeter in an interesting country zone that is a distant cousin to CMT country-pop-hop. Rather, they maintain a baritone-voiced, Haggard-esque foundation that breathes equal parts hard country, alt-country, pure classic country, and

Read More

New Year’s Eve in Jackson Hole 2014-2015!

Posted on Dec 30, 2014

(a portion of this piece was published by Planet JH Weekly)

Teton County will bid farewell to 2014 with an overly deep snow base (174″ and counting), and an equally dense showing of music options to ring in 2015. From laidback jazz bars to the rowdiest of high altitude rock ‘n’ roll, there’s something for everyone this Jackson Hole New Year’s Eve.

Purveyors of high-mountain alt-grass, six-piece One Ton Pig is thinking outside the box  by setting up shop at Camp Creek Restaurant and Bar in Hoback Canyon, about 15 miles south of Jackson. The band is fresh from recording their 3rd studio album (due late winter), so catch a new batch of material honed-in from the woodshed. A prime rib dinner is an option, and a new pizza kitchen will fulfill late night cravings. Tickets are $15, and the music kicks-off at 9 p.m. For more info about the shuttle from Albertson’s, check out CampCreekInn.com.

Some of the more attractive touring shows fall on the west slope of the Tetons this year. The Knotty Pine in Victor will host hip-hop artist

Read More

McMurtry brings Complicated Game

Posted on Dec 30, 2014

(a portion of this piece was published by Planet JH Weekly)

jamesAn artist that lives by the sentiment “It is not our job to be loved, it’s our job to be remembered,” Austin singer-songwriter James McMurtry’s schedule doesn’t push beyond the Texas border during the winter months, except to perform at the Jackson Hole Center for the Arts this Friday. McMurtry’s poignant lyricism draws out the grit (and sometimes the ugly underbelly) of American society by utilizing keen character sketches and parody through his songs. On his first album in six years, Complicated Game (due Feb. 24), the lead talk-rap single, “How’m I Gonna Find You Now,” is “a speed-freak song,” according to the Grammy-nominated McMurtry. “It comes from hanging out in North Texas where there’s just way too much meth. Some of my cousins are strung out on it, and it’s not funny. So sometimes you’ve gotta turn those songs into a cartoon to get to them.” James McMurtry (solo), 7 p.m. Friday at the Center Theater. $29-$34. JHCenterForTheArts.org.

Read More

Sneaky Pete and the Secret Weapons cook up debut “Breakfast”

Posted on Dec 17, 2014

(a portion of this piece was published by Planet JH Weekly)

The lead track, “Forgotten Lullabies,” from Sneaky Pete and the Secret Weapons’s debut studio album, Breakfast, opens with a deeply grooving funk melody akin to a Robert Walter’s 20th Congress cut. Amplified by the collaborative note play of a dominant low-end clavinet fused with an electric guitar, trumpet and a rumbling bass, the elements spell, P-A-R-T-Y. “I am a mountain, you are my muse/Carve me down with your fountain, reveal whatever you choose,” sings guitarist and songwriter Jack Tolan.

The Weapons—the sextet’s abbreviated namesake—will step onto the Pink Garter Stage this Saturday for their first headlining show at the theatre, a well-deserved accomplishment to complement their Album Release Party. The Weapons exceeded their goal of $5,000 through a crowd-funded campaign on Indiegogo.com, making the recording feasible. All concertgoers will receive a free CD of Breakfast.

SneakyPete_Ski“We’re all living together now and have been practicing like five days a week for this show,” said Weapons drummer Zach Zimmerman as I sat down to chat with half of the band at Café Boheme.

Zimmerman co-founded The Weapons with bassist Sam Lowenthal in the winter of 2011-12, when the two friends informally jammed and spoke of

Read More