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Motherload Halloween soundtrack

Posted on Oct 27, 2016

(this piece was published by Planet Jackson Hole)

Dean Ween Group at the Pink Garter Saturday

Dean Ween Group & The Meat Puppets at the Pink Garter Saturday

…Also Ben Folds, Moon Hooch, Teton Serenade, Sneaky Pete, Chanman Roots Band, Wyatt Lowe and beyond

The mass of music offerings for this Halloween weekend is unprecedented. This is off-season?!

The Deaner, Dean Ween, Michael “Mickey” Melchiondo, Jr.—he’s all the same beast of a guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and yes, a fishing guide. I first heard his international cult band Ween in 1992 on a mix tape, the same tape that introduced me to Phish. In 1984, Deaner co-founded Ween as a middle school student with Aaron Freeman (Gene Ween) in New Hope, Pennsylvania. This weekend, he’ll bring his Dean Ween Group, which includes the touring members of Ween except Gene. The super double-bill pairs them with The Meat Puppets courtesy of KHOL, Jackson’s community radio station.

Seeing Ween three times in the late ‘90s was as mind warping as listening to The Pod (1991) or Pure Guava (1992), two of their nine strikingly non-mainstream studio albums that are like nothing I’ve heard before or since. Deaner’s fresh release Oct. 21, The Deaner Album, brings his love of classic guitar rock to fourteen tunes including four instrumentals, and sound waves that echo cracked country and the quirky mix of soul, funk, metal and punk that has defined his career.

“After Ween [took a four-year hiatus in 2012], I put my guitar down for almost a year,” Deaner says in a press release (he hasn’t given a proper interview in years according to his publicist). “I’ll never do that again. I’m so into practicing and writing and being good at my craft right now. I’m back in playoff shape. I write and play and record all day, every day, and I’m going to keep it there for the rest of my life.”

At times, The Deaner Album plays out, like a Ween discography bookend with splashes of digital backing drum tracks, the same way Ween performed as a duo for over a decade. And, of course, there’s some ridiculously hilarious subject matter (“Exercise Man,” “Bundle of Joy”) and other surprises like “SchwartzePete”—a tight instrumental and loving tribute to Les Paul, originally written long ago for a TV pilot with Deaner playing all of the instruments. Moreover, it’s a trippy set of accessible guitar-inspired anthems. The biggest change for Deaner was moving into his own studio, converted from an old

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Go Out West Fest, young man

Posted on Aug 23, 2016

OutWestFestSummer_poster_web (1)

“I headed west to grow up with the country,” sang Gram Parsons in his song “Return of the Grievous Angel,” a cult-classic recorded in 1973. The concept comes from the phrase “go west, young man,” based on the concept of Manifest Destiny and America’s expansion westward.

The regional bands of Sunday’s Out West Fest—Birdhunter, Patrick Chadwick, Screen Door Porch, and organizers Canyon Kids—know the feeling of chasing dreams westward. From nearly top to bottom, the bill is full of musicians that journeyed west in their early twenties to find opportunity and access to the mountains they’d dreamed of. The music followed. The brainchild of duo-led Canyon Kids, the fest signals another Rocky Mountain summer in the books, yet brings together four acts that are forging paths of their own in a rural pocket of the country.

“I first headed West to check out America and our National Parks…explore and adventure and have opportunities to do exactly what I want with my time,” said Canyon Kids vocalist/rhythm guitarist Bo Elledge. “I had spent time in other gorgeous places doing seasonal work but this place has more sense of community and a welcoming music scene.”

What sets these acts apart and what ties them together is the emphasis on creating a sound of their own through song craft, and interacting with piers that share a similar zest for the mountain-musician lifestyle. The fest was inspired in part by the WYOmericana Caravan Tour, which Screen Door Porch and Canyon Kids linked up for in 2015. Collaborative encores and cross-band collaborations were a staple of the tour, and Out West Fest embodies this tradition that often produces moments that could never be rehearsed, nor replicated.

Pinedale duo Birdhunter opens the show. Samantha Rise (vocals, ukulele) and Ryan Ptasnik (drums, keyboard bass) have a refreshing sound meshing jazz, folk, soul and early blues sensibilities. Patrick Chadwick has had a prolific run as of late, releasing his terrific Soul of Mine EP earlier this year as well as a collaborative EP with Victor Pokorny, Stay! Positive!, which was released digitally on iTunes etc. just last week. Roots-rock/Americana band Screen Door Porch will stage a quintet after a run of festivals and before entering the studio to record a fourth album. Canyon Kids will close the day with their six-piece version of the band, which often nudges subtle acoustic moments to a rockin’ bang. Last year’s release Best Loved Poems of the American People was one of my favorite albums of 2015.

Out West Fest featuring Canyon Kids, Screen Door Porch, Patrick Chadwick, and Birdhunter, 5 p.m. at Village Commons. Free, all-ages.

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Shakey Graves returns with fellow Austinites Calliope Musicals

Posted on May 24, 2016

Shakey Graves performs at the Americana Music Association Showcase at Gatsby's during SXSW on March 14, 2014, in Austin, TX. (Erika Goldring Photo)

For a just a regular dude that’s turned into a big deal, Shakey Graves aka Alejandro Rose-Garcia is not that normal, creatively speaking. His hometown of Austin knows what’s up. The city’s mayor at the time proclaimed Feb. 9, 2012 as Shakey Graves Day, which the twenty-six year old has utilized over the years as his own indie release date. For three days, he puts all of his music on Bandcamp for free downloads, and every year he releases a unique EP, unreleased material, or live album. After three days, the freebies disappear until the next year. Well played, sir.

“I think the way that my music has been absorbed is pretty much through Internet culture for the most part,” Rose-Garcia told The 13th Floor in March. “It’s less of album sales and radio play, and more of YouTube hunting and word of mouth, and I feel like that’s an inherently younger way of acquiring music in the first place.”

Shakey Graves performed last year on the Jackson Hole Live outdoor stage—solo and as a power trio. His solo tunes included a Gibson hollow body electric while singing and playing a suitcase kick drum that was positioned behind him and played with the heel of his

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Posted on May 1, 2016

WYOCaravan_2016Poster_AllDatesThe energy is building for another monumental run with The WYOmericana Caravan. From funk to folk and the roots in between, this is about the widest range of music you’ll hear on a concert bill. Being intimately on the road together will propel a creative force that can only happen through decisive collaboration and musical exploration. Hope to see you at these shows. They’re going to be special.

A HUGE thanks to all of the 2016 sponsors: Surf Wyoming, Backwards Distilling Co., Wyoming Public Radio, Snake River Brewing, Mountain Khakis, Jackson Hole Community Radio (89.1FM), Benderuble Sound, Planet Jackson Hole, S. Rose Design, Give’r, Wild Iris Press, Wyoming Magazine, and Arts Cheyenne.

TH May 5 – Laramie, WY – Gryphon Theatre | 8p
FRI May 6 – Cheyenne, WY – Atlas Theatre | 8p
SAT May 7 – LaPorte, CO – Swing Station | 9p
TH May 12 – Lander, WY – Lander Bar | 8p
FRI May 13 – Victor, ID – Knotty Pine Supper Club | 9p
SAT May 14 – Salt Lake City, UT – The State Room | 8p
WED June 1 – Jackson, WY – Town Square Tavern | 9p
TH June 2 – Missoula, MT – The Palace Lounge | 9p
FRI June 3 – Whitefish, MT – Great Northern Bar | 9p
SAT June 4 – Bozeman, MT – The Filling Station | 9p
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Unprecedented: An Evening with Luther Dickinson, Rich Robinson, Ivan Neville, and Robert Randolph

Posted on Jan 13, 2016

(this piece was published by Planet Jackson Hole)

Luther Dickinson

Luther Dickinson

It’s audacious to call this Friday’s concert—billed as An Evening with Luther Dickinson, Rich Robinson, Ivan Neville, and Robert Randolph—as one of the best bills of the year. It’s only mid-January, and there are eleven and a half months left to go. Take into consideration, though, the Dickinson-led North Mississippi Osborne set at the recent Fireman’s Ball, Randolph’s crushing set at Jackson Hole Live, or better yet, the fact that this is a rare one-off collaboration of high-caliber musicians that have never shared the same stage as a unit. Don’t assume the typical concert experience, either. Much of the magic will be made on the spot, with reciprocating vibes determining the next variation.

Ivan Neville

Ivan Neville

“Shannon [McCormick, Programming Director at Center for the Arts] saw Southern Soul Assembly—which is JJ Grey, Marc Broussard, Anders Osborne and myself—which actually inspired this show we’re doing in Jackson Hole,” explained Dickinson. “So Shannon and I got to talking and he was like ‘Man, let’s do something like that,’ so we kept poking around to get the right lineup. I’ve played with all of the cats on this bill in different incarnations, but never

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Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine Party #11: Blackalicious + Phutureprimitive

Posted on Jan 13, 2016

(this piece was published by Planet Jackson Hole)


“NO SNOWBOARDS ALLOWED!” The more those words become a faint recollection in the history of snow sports, the less obvious it is that snowboarding is still a progressive subculture, an underground microcosm of radical and a proud community that has risen with an international as well as local voice that is heard around the world. Like the steadfast anticipation of Christmas Day 50 years ago in Muskegon, Michigan, when Sherman Poppen invented the predecessor of the snowboard — the snurfer — obsessed riders await the far-reaching podium that is Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine, edition No. 11.

After 10 sold-out magazine release parties marked by epic performances from Yelawolf, Zion I, last year’s Talib Kweli with Immortal Technique, even a Justin Timberlake impromptu beat-boxing show with Brother Ali in 2013, it’s apparent that every year is an attempt to

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Record year for regional album releases

Posted on Jan 7, 2016

(this piece was published by Planet Jackson Hole) 

WoodSmokeRising_coverNow that the dust has settled into the New Year, let’s take a snapshot of local album releases over the last twelve months. It’s worth noting that nine albums, predominantly featuring original music, is quite a progression for Jackson, for our local music community. Half of these bands released debut albums, which is a good sign for what’s to come. It was also reported via Wyoming Public Radio that 2015 was a record year for Wyoming-based album releases.

CanyonKids_coverHere’s a breakdown predominantly Jackson-based regional independent releases, most of which are available via iTunes and streaming services, though I recommend visiting each band’s website to see if they sell directly from the source (which puts more money in the artist’s pocket).

Written, arranged and recorded in “various houses and apartments,” this ten-track debut album of original material is split between instrumental dashes and lyrical experiences via a gruff-voiced Mike Swanson. Standout track: “Tony’s Blues.”

Canyon Kids Best Loved Poems of the American People.” Genre: indie folk, rock, Wyomericana. This eleven-month sophomore project was tracked at Teton Artlab with the help of a grant from CSA Jackson Hole. Utilizing only four microphones, a modest recording setup, and many characters from the Jackson music scene, the album concept involved interpreting American poems by composing music to complement the words. Standout track: “Out Where The West Begins.”WyattLowe_cover

Wyatt Lowe “Songs from a Bottomless Well.” Genre: rockabilly, blues. Eighteen-year-old Lowe wrote seven of the eleven tracks on this debut, with classic rockabilly (“Hot Rod Lincoln”) to straight-up Stratocaster-wailing, and Jimmy Vaughn-esque blues (“Howlin’”). Choice dark threads, wayfarer shades, and slicked back hair, Lowe is a singer-songwriter that has the look of a twenty-something Johnny Cash, and the goods of a seasoned bandleader. Standout track: “Meet You in Heaven.”

One Ton Pig “Lastville.” Genre: jamgrass, folk, Americana. Voted #3 on Wyoming Public Radio’s Best Wyoming/Regional Releases of 2015, this is the band’s fourth release and second studio album. A mostly high-tempo set, this is the first album as a sextet with fiddler Matt Herron, and the instrumental play is their best yet. Standout track: “Two to Get on Stage.”OneTonPig_cover

MichaelBatforf_coverMichael G. Batdorf “Beyond the Mask.” Genre: singer-songwriter, folk-rock, bluegrass. Primary songwriter for One Ton Pig, Batdorf’s solo releases sometimes get overshadowed by the latter, yet stand their ground with minimal instrumentation that puts a greater emphasis on the lyrics, the story. This, his seventh release, is another interesting chapter in his personal book of songs that continues to raise the bar, set by Batdorf himself. Standout track: “Personal Skies.”

chanman_albumartPeter Chandler “Chanman Solo.” Genre: reggae, ski bum music, jazz. Songs of love, justice and mountain town living define Chandler’s easy-going bliss. His previous couples of solo albums—”Perfect Thirst” and “Gotta Take Some Turns”—were released under the Chanman moniker and had multiple guests. With the use of his given name also comes a songwriter and singer that has come into his own, a pioneer of the ski bum music genre, blending reggae and jazz with no frills here—just a guitar, harmonica and voice. Standout track: “That’s a Lot of Girls.”

MikeDowling_coverMike Dowling “Tracks.” Genre: old blues, swing. A Grammy-winning guitarist, Dowling is a diamond in the rugged ruralness of Dubois. Rootsy, soulful vocals mixed with instrumentals, here’s eleven tracks of beautifully played solo tunes on resonator guitars. Standout track: “Tennessee Blues.”

JasonTylerBurton_coverJason Tyler Burton “The Ballad of Sally Moore” EP. Genre: folk. A Kentucky-born Pinedale resident, Burton is a multi-instrumentalist nomad with a quietly compelling vocal delivery. Released last month, this three-song set that all tell the same tale, but from different points of view. This is a follow up to 2014’s “Headwaters,” which appeared on a handful of best-of lists. Standout track: “Part 2 – All the Whiskey in the World.”

ModernSettler_Cover300_ADScreen Door Porch “Modern Settler.” Genre: country-blues, roots-rock, Wyomericana. Voted #1 on Wyoming Public Radio’s Best Wyoming/Regional Releases of 2015. Note: Yours Truly is in this band, so here’s what Pop Matters had to say: “Modern Settler, their third, is a strong record that runs the roots-rock gamut, from the bright rock of “Wicked Ways” to the swampy acoustic blues of “Chasin’ Homesteader Blues” to the ‘70s soul cover of Bobby Charles’ “Street People”, complete with horn section.” Standout track: “Poor Elijah/Tribute to Johnson.”

Rock on and support your local musicians!

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Jackson Hole New Year’s Eve Music Party Preview 2015-16

Posted on Dec 30, 2015

(this piece was published by Planet Jackson Hole)


Major Zephyr

Picking a New Year’s Eve party to ring-in sweet ’16 will be a fun endeavor in Jackson this year with lots of options to choose from. Do you want something close to your bed? A bluegrass hoedown? An EDM dance party? Mainstream country? A funk-nasty soul groove vibe? This year’s party menu is local-heavy, featuring a smattering of Teton County’s favorite party bands and a pair of traveling acts.

Starting on Town Square as we work our way West, it’s a band that has taken the region by storm over the last year. There’s good reason that groove-funk band Sneaky Pete & the Secret Weapons have found a homebase as Town Square Tavern’s go-to holiday and event band—they have that beat, that dance-party vibe with funky keys, a punchy horn, and doing it with an original stamp. Recently downsizing from a six-piece to a five-piece as drummer Zach Zimmereman left the band (now Station Manager at KHOL 89.1 FM) and Gregory Miles switched from perscussion to drum kit, The Weapons’s debut album “Breakfast” reached number five on the Relix Magazine/ radio chart. Sneaky Pete & the Secret Weapons, 10 p.m. Thursday at Town Square Tavern. $15/advance, $20/day-of-show. 733-2886,

A human jukebox band from Nashville, Beyond Control has a two-week stand at

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