By: Steve Hefter
On tour in support of their latest album, Up And Rolling, on November 13, 2019 the North Mississippi Allstars made a stop at The Hamilton, one of DC's premier nightclubs. Definitely one of those shows you look forward to for the months leading up to it, and with good reason. The NMA, in their rawest form, is a power trio with their roots firmly planted in the blues. Brothers Luther Dickinson (guitar, keys, vocals) and Cody Dickinson (drums, vocals, guitar, washboard, etc.) are the heart of the band. This particular night saw Jessie Williams on the bass guitar.
Seemingly too young to have been at it for 23 years, with ten studio albums, this album is different. They wanted to connect the music of those they grew up idolizing, with what was happening in the music scene they knew today. All sparked by an old, forgotten roll of film shot in 1996 by Wyatt McSpadden with photos of of people and places in North Mississippi that were special to the brothers. This is how Up And Rolling was born. Listening and watching Luther play, can launch a tad of confusion in one's mind. He is some kind of genuine, superhero. At times you'd swear you were listening to a ninety year old blues pioneer, with brother Cody wailing on his washboard. Then with a chord progression, or after playing with the volume on his amp and/or guitar (or both), you're now watching one of the cutting edge guitar players of our time. It is all a joy to take in - to watch - and to listen to, and I think the band is having as much, or more fun than the audience! Any time NMA is headlining, it's a pretty simple formula - GO.
At the end of July, 2019 something truly extraordinary happened: The one and only live concert DVD ever produced of and by legendary master guitarist and musician Frank Marino was released for purchase by the public! This is ground-breaking for several reasons. Let's start with Frank himself, whom I've known and speak with occasionally since early 2010. When I asked him a while back why he had never put out a concert DVD, he responded in his straight-forward matter-of-fact way, "Steve, how many times have you watched the same DVD over again?" After a few seconds of thought it dawned on me that there are actually very few DVDs I've watched more than once or twice. Frank then said, "Now compare that with how many times you have listened to the same album. Audio is played over and over, and if you are especially fond of it, you're probably still listening to it even decades after you first heard it." It was hard to argue with that. He was right - but in this case, the Live at the Agora Theatre DVD, with over six hours of high quality Blu Ray video and amazingly rich audio, mixed by Frank himself, will be watched many, many times. There is a small book that comes with the DVD, with Part 1 written by Ryan Sparks and Part 2 written by Frank himself, that explains the winding and ironic story of how and why this DVD came to be in the first place. I won't give it all away, but it starts with a liquid light projector and twists and turns from there.
Another reason that this DVD is unlike any other ever made is that during the two days of recording, the system that Frank used for years to record was not picking up the drum tracks. Assured that the back-up audio recording system was in place, and unable to diagnose the issue with the primary recording system, Frank had no choice but to rely on the fact that the back-up, redundant system, would be recording all the instruments, including the drum tracks. For whatever reason, that did not happen. After bringing the master recordings back to his home in Montreal, Frank was, what must have been shocked, sickened, <place adjective here>, to find out that the drum tracks from backup system were corrupted. As Frank told me, "It was just a bunch of pops and clicks." To make a very, very long story short , Frank spent nearly nine years - NINE YEARS, digitally recreating roughly 12 hours of drumming by his long-time drummer, Mr. Dave Goode. I spoke to Frank several times throughout this period. Essentially this was Frank's only real option (again I leave you to read the details in the book), but during this time, and through various different methods, Frank recreated every single drum beat. From snare to Bass, to high hats and everything else in between. I feel confident in saying that never in the history of live music recording has anyone attempted, let along finished, such an amazingly daunting task. He told me that on a good day (12-14 hours) he could complete approximately 3-4 minutes of drumming. Think about that. Nearly every single day over the course of almost nine years, Frank used those pops and clicks, along with whatever the other mics on stage had picked up, to completely recreate the masterful performance Dave Goode laid down during those two days in December of 2010. Frank told me recently that he purposely did not watch te video when he was working on the drum audio. He did not want to be influenced at all by anything else except what he was hearing on the audio he did have. And the results are truly astonishing. Possibly the finest live music DVD ever produced. If you are, or ever were, a fan of Frank Marino Mahogany Rush, you absolutely owe it to yourself to go out and buy this. It is worth every single penny, and probably a whole lot more.
I reached out to Dave Goode recently, prior to the release of the DVD, explaining that I would like to interview him to get his perspective on the DVD shoot and in particular, his thoughts on what Frank did, digitally recreating his entire performance, and how he thought it turned out. Check back in a few days to hear what he had to say. We discussed his musical background, how he met and ended up playing drums for Frank, what he's been up to since Frank stopped touring after the DVD shoot, and much more!.
By: Steve Hefter
August 7, 2020 at the Birchmere will forever mark the first live show I attended since the beginning of the Covid pandemic. I couldn't have asked for a "better" first show. Ron Holloway is a legendary sax player who has played with all the greats, and been a member of some legendary bands, possibly most notably, as a member of the great Dizzy Gillespie Quintet. He's also been a formal member of the The Warren Haynes Band, The Susan Tedeschi Band, Gil Scot-Heron, and Root Boy Slim. He has also sat in with almost every major group that we are fans of, including The Allman Brothers Band, Warren Haynes, Tedeschi-Trucks Band, Gov't Mule, Widespread panic, Little Feet, and many, many more. The list of bands he has sat in with goes on and on.
The Ron Holloway Band is a six piece funk/R&B group with Ron Holloway leading the charge on the tenor Sax, Rodney Dunton (drums), Black Betty (Jenny Langer on vocals), Rachel Ann Morgan (vocals), Cory Belcher (bass), and Justin Gillen (guitar). I'm unsure who was more excited to have the RHB playing - the band themselves or the audience. Since this was likely the first show since the Covid outbreak for all, it quickly turned into a joyous celebration of live music. Ron has surrounded himself with great musicians. The guitar players are truly awesome and the ladies on vocals compliment each other extremely well, each with their own strong suits, and each with powerful voices that can be soft and warm when called for, and rocking and guttural as well. The arrangements of the songs showcase the entire band, not just Ron, though when he is playing, there is no mistaking who is leading the charge. Ron also relishes the music for the music's sake and enjoys sitting back and listening to his phenomenal band belt out the funk. I can only imagine what a pleasure it is working for Mr. Holloway. He clearly has a deep appreciation for the type of music he is playing and it comes across to the audience. The audience showed it's deep appreciation for the music as the band powered through a 90+ minute set. Needless to say everyone, including the band, was deeply satidfied after the show. It was a real treat that I wasn't sure when I'd get to enjoy again. Thank you Ron!
Available at: https://mahoganyrush.com/
Note: The two videos above we released by Frank Marino in 2010 and 2016, respectively
By: Tom Pragliola
It was a school night, so his homework was going to be late.
Brandon "Taz" Neiderauer played to a capacity crowd at Bowery Ballroom in lower Manhattan on Wednesday night. The 16 year old guitar whiz has been traveling most weekends, in a seemingly non-stop trajectory to star status in what is already a very successful music career, performing to enthusiastic audiences all across the country. He does this while maintaining the "normal" life of a high school student. Even with all his success and the accolades coming his way, it was a special night for him, playing to a sold-out crowd as the headliner in his hometown.
At one point between songs, Brandon told the crowd "I'm also a regular kid, going to school, and I think one of my teachers is here tonight. So, you know, I'm going to have some late homework, cause you can see, this is what I'm doing tonight." In the band with Taz is one of his guitar mentors, Mat Godfrey on guitar, Matthew Fox on bass, and Kendall Lentz on drums, all providing solid support.
Here's a few videos so you can see for yourself what Taz and the band are up to on a school night: 1) My Revival; 2) Where I Belong; 3) Wildfire, Part 2.
By: Steve Hefter
Experience has taught me that if Tab is playing at either Rams Head or The Birchmere, there is a high likelihood that he will be playing both clubs within a few days of each of other. And that's just what happened - Tab announced his shows at Rams Head On Stage first, he played a 3:30 and a 6:30 show on November 15 - and shortly after announced he'd be playing The Birchmere a few days later. So, I was able to see Tab twice within a few days! Rams Head has just begun to put on live shows again since shutting down in March. They are accomplishing this by removing about a third of the tables, requiring that you buy all the seats for an entire table, and the strangest safety measure of all- they set up an eight foot high plexiglass wall that completely surrounded the stage. That meant we got to see Tab play in what looked like a giant fish tank. Surprisingly though, the sound was great. It did make taking photos a challenge (that's an under statement), but in true Tab fashion this didn't slow him down at all. In fact - he alluded to it when thanking the club, and said, "whatever it takes for us to play live, in front of people, again.". After sharing some of his philosophy about live streaming, drive-in shows, other Covid related music topics, he, Corey, and Terence went to work and cranked out one hell of a great show!
If playing in a box was bothering Tab, you couldn't tell. He seemed extra "on" this night and the smaller than usual crowd loved every minute! Below are two videos I took, Night train and Medicine, two crowd favorites, and two of my personal favorites, and they both kicked ass! One thing about Tab Benoit - he is dedicated to his craft. He tkes every gig seriously and was truly grateful to be able to play for people. He mentioned hat he and the guys ust jumped in the bus for a quick three week tour, and that he was likely the only band actually on tour. Not so sure that last statement was true at the time, but, at the vey least, he is certainly in a very small circle of musicians.
By: Tom Pragliola
North Mississippi Allstars at Brooklyn Bowl - 11/2/19:
On their Up and Rolling tour (some great videos we took at the show - links below)
A bit of background on the new recording from the NMA website:
A forgotten roll of film was found. Shot back in 1996, the photographs resonate with music. The images inspired an accompanying soundtrack. The music is full of stories. Wyatt McSpadden found an old roll of film and tracked down members of North Mississippi Allstars to share his forgotten photographs. The images were so profound and so beautiful that they would come to inspire the latest recording, Up And Rolling. The North Mississippi Allstars would return to the famous Zebra Ranch to record Up And Rolling, inspired by Wyatt's images. They gathered together, trimmed back the wisteria, and swept out the converted barn recording studio. The fired up the tube amps and old computers and began conjuring up modern Mississippi music, ancient and futuristic all at once. Telling it how it was and how they think it should be.
While inspired by the community and music of that Sunday more than 20 years ago, Up and Rolling is the sound of modern Mississippi. Luther hopes, “the music is rooted, but spreads evasively from the kudzu jungle grown over Junior’s concrete slab and Otha’s porch boards thru the Zebra Ranch’s razor wire chain link fence. Transcending time and space, music reaches out into the dark of night like the wisteria vine, looking for free-hearted souls to latch onto and wedge into the foundations of hate, slowly tearing down walls a generation at a time.” - www.nmallstars.com!
By: Steve Hefter
The last time I saw Brandon 'Taz" Niederauer play was almost exactly two years ago. He played a matinee show at Rams Head On Stage and before that played Pearl Street Warehouse. When he took the stage at The Birchmere on October 21, 2020 he was two years older and about two feet taller! Making his national television debut on the Ellen DeGeneres show at the ripe old age of ten, his career has been a blur... In 2016 he originated the role of Zack in Andrew Lloyd Weber's "School of Rock". He also played a part in Spike Lee's feature film, "She's Gotta Have It". He has played with the best of the best: multiple members of the Allman Brothers Band, including Gregg Allman, Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes, Butch Trucks, and Oteil Burbridge, as well as a variety of other notable musicians, including Buddy Guy, Stevie Nicks, Lady Gaga, Slash, Jon Batiste, Dweezil Zappa, Eric Gales, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Dr. John, Gary Clark Jr., Col. Bruce Hampton, Eric Krasno, George Porter Jr., Robert Randolph, Karl Denson, Doug Wimbish, and John Popper. He has also performed with Widespread Panic, Tedeschi Trucks Band, The String Cheese Incident, Scorpions, Umphrey's McGee, The Revivalists, Dumpstaphunk, and countless other bands. Fronting his own band now - he is slowly coming into his own. There is zero doubt about his guitar chops, he has excellent skills, tone and pitch among them. His attempts at writing original songs have been interesting to hear. Many are very good, and you wonder how a seventeen year old kid has the experiences to draw from to write meaningful lyrics. Somehow he pulls that off too. He definitely won over the audience, most who had never seen him live before. The appreciative crowd loved every minute of the jam packed set. Here is what Taz played:
1. My Revival; 2. Where I Belong; 3. I Can't Live; 4. Fortunate Son (Creedence Clearwater Revival cover); 5. Jan Jan; 6. Blackbird (The Beatles cover); 7. I Shot The Sheriff (Bob Marley & The Wailers cover); 8. Leaving Trunk (Taj Mahal cover); 9. Frankenstein (The Edgar Winter Group cover); 10. Dare; 11. Soul Sacrifice (Santana cover); 12. Paralyzed; ENC: Fire (Jimi Hendrix cover).
By: Steve Hefter
The Allman Betts Band is ensuring that the road goes on forever. Appearing at The Birchmere on October 26, 2020, the famous sons of three of the original six Allman Brothers Band, Devon Allman, Duane Betts, and Berry Oakley Junior, along with John Ginty on keys, Johnny Stachela (guitar), John Lum (drums), and R. Scott Bryan (percussion and vocals) make up the current line-up. Beginning at the end of 2017, after mourning the loss of both his parents, Devon was ready to get back out and play. Through several incarnations, that included the Devon Allman project, it all culminated with Devon and Duane inviting Berry Oakley Jr. to join them - and The Allman Betts band was formed. Continually touring to hone their sound - until Covid hit - the band has put out two albums: 2019 saw the release of Down To The River and Bless Your Heart, released earlier this year. The writing took place on the road, mainly Devon and Duane working on new, original tunes. They also invited Stoll Vaughn, currently the head of A&R for CUT records and having toured with John Mellencamp and John Fogerty's 'Words and Music' tour, Farm Aid, Def Leppard, Journey, Shooter Jennings, Marty Stuart, Robert Earl Keen, James McMurtry, and Don William.
The band opened with several originals and Devon forged the way with his unique vocal stylings. The band has a full, rich sound. John Ginty on keys is an unmistakable part of the band's sound. In my opinion, Johnny Stachela is the hidden gem in the band. Taking most every slide part in each song, he can make the SG he plays sing! Speaking of singing, Johnny also did a fair amount of the vocals. He is the backbone of the band's unique sound, and is extremely talented. Devon has let his hair grow and leads the band through most of the singing, with the exception of several songs sung by Berry Oakley Jr. His vocal talent is evident within seconds of the songs he sings solo, primarily while playing the keyboard. Watching Duane Betts play it is remarkable how much he sounds like his father. He has a similar poise and stature on stage as Dickey. His guitar playing is a definite reminder of the ABB sound, and overall, fits well with Devon's sound. At some point world renowned sax player Ron Holloway joined the band for a few tunes. It is always a thrill to hear Ron sitting in with a band. The first time I experienced that, he sat in with the ABB at The Beacon Theatre. As far as I can remember, the band only played a few Allman Brothers Band tunes: "Melissa", and "Blue Sky". The latter I caught on video which you can watch below. I also videoed one of their originals, "Carolina Song" from the Bless Your Heart album, which is below as well. There is no doubt that the band has all the right players, the talent, and the names to draw large crowds. While the first couple of recordings are pretty good, I would expect the guys to break through and hit new highs with upcoming recordings.
By: Steve Hefter
October 19, 2020 had been circled on my calendar for months. Samantha Fish came to The Birchmere, with yet another incarnation of a band, to rock the sold out crowd. Likely due to Covid and cost (though I don't know for sure), Samantha showed up with a trio - harkening back to her power trio days with Christopher Alexander and Go Go Ray on drums. This night Samantha was joined by Terence Higgins on drums and Ron Johnson on the bass guitar. While I like her full band with the horn section, I won't deny, I was very excited at the prospect of seeing Samantha in power trio mode again! There is something far more personal when Sam leads the charge with a trio. She is in full command of the entire concert. She sets the grooves, the attitude of the show.
This night was an exceptional show! Not just grateful to be playing live, but you could tell, she was digging being back at her musical roots. Her guitar playing - especially her leads breaks are more powerful with a direct sense of purpose in the trio format. She loves rocking out with an audience, and we were more than willing to join the groove! Knowing just when to slow things down, she broke out the acoustic guitar for a few songs in the middle of the set. I've sen every incarnation of Samantha's bands throughout the years, since 2014, and it's the power trio that still grabs me. Here is the amazing 20 song set list from night one. She played the following night there as well.
1.Road Runner; 2. Hurt's All Gone; 3. Chills and Fever (Johnny Love cover); 4. Wild Heart; 5. Blood in the Water; 6. Highway's Holding Me Now; 7. Place to Fall; 8. Gone for Good; 9. Bitch on the Run; 10. You Can't Go (Lonnie Lester cover); 11. Need You More (solo acoustic); 12. If I Were Your Woman (Gladys Night cover) (solo acoustic); 13. Love Letters (solo acoustic); 14. You Got It Bad; 15. Kill or Be Kind; 16. Black Wind Howlin'; 17. Dream Girl; 18. Miles to Go; 19. Bulletproof; #ENC: Don't Let It Bring you Down
Wolf Trap has quickly become one of our all-time favorite summer-time venues. This year showcased some stellar concerts at the beautiful Filene Center, with huge names in music as well as lesser-known supporting acts getting an opportunity to play in front of the huge Wolf Trap audiences. This combination can work well and when it does, you can experience some truly inspirational musical moments. Below is a shot from each show we covered at Wolf Trap this summer.
We ONLY use your e-mail to send infrequent announcements of new editions or to contact you if you
are the lucky winner of one of our contests!
By: Steve Hefter
Tab Benoit brought his powerhouse brand of Cajun blues/rock to the legendary Birchmere on November 18, 2020. Together with long-time bassist Corey Duplechin and drummer Terence Higgins, the trio tore through some of Tab's biggest hits; many of them from his super popular album, Medicine, released on April 26, 2011. The Birchmere has been hosting socially distant, concerts for several months now. All patrons are required to have heir temperature taken at the door and to wear masks throughout the entire time in the building, with the exception of if you are enjoying one of their tasty menu items. This show marked my fourt time to the club in the past few months, and I never once felt unsafe. So - hats off to the original club owner, Gary Oelze, who opened this world renowned venue in 1966, and all the staff, all putting safety of their patrons first.
As always, Tab led the audience through his large catalogue of songs, most of them showing off his amazing guitar prowess. Tab is one of the few guitar players that play without a jammed packed pedal board - he plugs his Fender thin line telecasters directly into his Cat 5 amplifier and he is off! Zero effects, pedals, or anything that would change his overall sound. With Tab, what you see is what you get, and that always is a concert filed with his amazing natural playing ability and his voice which compliments his blues sound. As is normally the case, the raucous, havey rocking tunes are interspersed with Tab's legendary comedy. While touching on some of the same topics in each show, his on-point sense of humor is punctuated with perfect timing making for an evening of amazing orginal music as well as a mini-comedy show! In addition to his extreme musical talent, Tab is also funny as hell. Tab's shows include timely ballads as well. This was the first of two consecutive shows he put on at the club.
The band powered through the following:
1. Why Are People Like That? (Muddy Waters cover); 2.The Blues Is Here to Stay (Cyril Neville cover); 3.Fever for the Bayou
(preceded by Happy Birthday sung to Tab by the audience); 4. These Arms of Mine (Otis Redding cover); 5. It's Alright (Video below); 6. Darkness; Shelter Me (Buddy Miller cover); 7. (Unknown); 8. One Foot in the Bayou (Filé cover); 9 New Orleans Ladies (LeRoux cover); 10.Sac-au-lait Fishing; Encore: Night Train
See the rrb-live YouTube channel for
all of our videos
December 8, 2020
A shout out to the legendary 9:30 club in DC. The long-time music venue has become world famous for the quality of music the club brings in night after night.
It has certainly become on of our favorite places to catch a show here in DC. With a capacity of approximately 1,200 people, a killer sound system, cutting edge, nationally known acts, and a staff that is second to none, you can always count on a good time at a 9:30 club show!
Thank you all!