Friday, April 22, 2011

Live Love

Most of you know that I have a special place in my heart for the city of brotherly love. The reasons are many: It was a short cruise down there on 95 in highschool, and we knew kids at Drexel. It was a real city with lots of life and history, but didn't feel intimidating, or expensive like New York. It was scary and exciting too, but not altogether that dangerous. Most importantly though, it was a place to see live music and had a great community of smaller to medium sized venues capable of housing known, but still undergroundy bands - and of course the Tweeter center was right across the river in Camden for the bigger shows like DMB, Allman Brothers, Phish, etc. I have no memory of feeling safe there though. Philly also had a large live electronic community, and I'm not sure how or when this started, but bands like the New Deal, Particle, Lotus, EOTO, Eliot Lipp and Sound Tribe always made stops at places like the Tower theater, the Trocadero, the Keswick, the Theater of Living Arts and of course the Electric Factory.

It might have been 3 years ago now the last time I saw Lotus at the TLA, but things were still the same. It was their "christmas party" and the crowd was filled with people I was "sure" I had seen before, and apparently all the families and friends of the band were in attendance. They played an amazing show of classic songs also tossing in some really silly/crazy covers including a tease of Killing in the Name, and a jammed out version of Hyrule Castle. I got thrown out for underage double fisting, but walked back in the front door with no problem. Nice. When we left we were greeted with the loving hiss of the mafia, just like old times.

It seems like these days I hardly have time to see live music. I could have seen a master class on monday night from the guitarist and drummer from Wilco, but I even missed that. As a result I have more and more drifted into listening to albums, and falling for the blogosphere. But, one thing I always like is to listen to live music anyway. I love listening to artists reinterpreting their own music live, and the energy that comes from a crowd/musician interaction. Truly the most magical recordings I have in my library are often improvisations, and will never happen again. I give you a playlist of 10 incredible live versions of songs you may or may not have heard.

1. Nigerian Marketplace - Oscar Peterson

This might be the hottest of hot Oscar tracks I've ever encountered. You can hear the sweat dripping off of him if you have good enough headphones. Peep Ray Brown working it out on the low end. Perhaps songs like this are the reason there are "jam" bands now.

2. Hesitation Blues - Hot Tuna

Jorma and Jack together, no drums, but the beat is so deep. His voice takes a little getting used to, but now I love it. Delta blues revival from the hippest of hippies.

3. Looks Like Rain - The Grateful Dead 1978

This rainy day track can put you in an amazingly sad trance that slowly builds until Bobby (when he could sing) brings it on home.

4. The Dump - Lettuce

Live in Tokyo (Japanese people love jazzfunk if you didn't know) the Berklee boys are tight and on fire.

5. Naive Melody - Perpetual Groove

Interesting interpretation, and I love Brock Butler's voice. Great vibes.

6. Stay With You - John Legend

We all knew the man could sing, but he can tinkle too. Guaranteed lady swooner.

7. Testify - Stevie Ray Vaughn

GOD DAMN. Feel those 13s.

8. Quinn The Eskimo

So sloppy, and so wasted. Rick's voice still kills it. Party in your basement with Bobby and the Hawks.

9. Luckiest Man - The Wood Brothers with John Medeski

This is an amazing song and Medeski just tells it. A subtler point is Chris Wood's low harmonies.

10. We'll Meet in Our Dreams (WMIOD) > Circus > WMIOD - Sound Tribe Sector 9

The closer from NYE 2008 at their home venue in Atlanta. The boys are in their element and these songs they started playing 15 years earlier have only gotten better. Wish the light show came with it.

I might buy tickets to REgeneration festival in Portland Oregon. June 23-26. I just gotta get back to the magic of the live performance.

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