The Passion of the Mensch
*Peaches En Randalia #22 *
3) Following your path.
Well, here we arethe end of the 2007 road (or is it the end of the road road?). Its been a long year (a long two (or is it three?) years) chasing babies, musicians, and scenes which transform into something else entirely almost on a daily basis. I didnt enjoy myself much this year but thats because my life is a continual compromised reaction to that which demands attention. And hell, theres nothing wrong with finding the middle of the road, away from the edge, as long as one doesnt stay there, dig? 2008 calls.
Jambands sort of rolled with the changes in 2007. The Disco Biscuits found their way after a difficult transition with their new drummer, Allen Aucoin. moe. recorded their first all-studio-written album and appears to have found a new direction. Umphreys McGee released a critically-acclaimed live double album that was as perfectly recorded as it was played. They are at a crossroads however, and itll be interesting to see if they can loosen up their sound to continue expanding their fan base. Widespread Panic jettisoned a guitarist and gained a Herring but the struggle with relevance remains. What do they offer? Can their sound evolve without one always thinking about the late great Michael Houser? ALO were by a long shot my favorite band to keep an eye on as I think they get IT in a way in which humor-challenged, hookless bands do not.
Phish did not reunite and only Page McConnell was a presence on the scene as his long overdue solo debut garnered praise and a brief tour that was a warm reminder of his undiminished skills as the Chairman of the Boards. Kudos, as well, on writing an entire album with songs that were loose, frank and seasoned with his trademark flourishes. 2007 done, one can only hope that the Vermont quartet remembers that it is sometimes better to age gracefully together as a unit rather than attempt lukewarm solo innovation.
I, of course, did my own thang in 2007 while amassing a shitload of Q&A conversations, which I am damn proud of after a hilariously inept debut on that particular literary scene three years ago. The thing that I brought to the table in all humility was a careful mensch-like passion towards the work of others. In a season of Best of lists, my favorite conversations were with John Derhak, Adam Dorn, Page McConnell and, of course, Tom Marshall who opened the door to his unique and vast mind-vault as we journeyed back and forth through the tangled web of Phishtory while always looking ahead to the brilliance of Amfibians latest release and my own personal favorite album of 2007_Skip the Goodbyes_. And on that brief yet honest note, I will do the same thing. See you on the road next year, somewhere, somehow, chasing a bit of organized chaos by that unknown band capturing an improvised frozen moment for all to enjoy.
_- Randy Ray stores his surreal concoctions, soupy criticisms and snappy conversations at www.rmrcompany.blogspot.com. _