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Published: 2002/11/24
by Dan Alford

Featured Department: "Audio Files: Holiday Shopping Guide"

{Editor's note: this month's featured department is Dan Alford's "Audio Files" where he regularly ruminates on live recordings. This month he offers a gift guide which focuses on live music (Btw, if the spirit of giving has overwhelmed you and you'd to see a more expansive list that encompasses additional categories, check out the year end issue of Relix]

Thoughts: It's the annual shopping guide this month and a little Miles next month to close out another year. Enjoy!

As always keep in touch with comments or contributions, be they full reviews or some Quick Picks.

Also, keep an eye open for Audio Files B&P offers on the Tape Trade Board. An offer for a recent Garaj Mahal show is up at publishing time. More holiday offers will appear soon.

Quick Picks From the Disc Changer:

WSP, Live in Classic City, Disc 2
GD, Go to Nassau, Disc 1- Jack Straw > Franklin’s, LL Rain
GD, Dick’s Picks 26, Disc 2- A set that defines 69 GD
Garaj Mahal, 8-23-02, Disc 2- w/ Zakir, part of an upcoming official release. Serious funk
Soulive, 5-17-01, Disc 1- San Francisco soul groove
Discman: SKB, 4-25-02, Disc 3- You’re the One, Cole’s > Hangers (coincidentally the same disc as last month)


It was a banner year for live releases from jambands. There have been so many new albums released that it you’d be hard pressed to get them all, much less be able to take the time to enjoy them. That, of course, makes it a great year for gift giving. There are literally live albums from every sub-genre on the scene, from Blue Grass to Electronic to Groove Jazz to Psychedelic- something to please everyone. If you’re confused about what to look for, you might want to start with the list of Jammy Nominees for Live Album of the Year. Some of these discs were actually released last year, but they still represent the cream of the crop. Leftover Salmon’s Live, features a snapshot of a recently transitioned band which then suffered the loss of Mark Vann. It’s festival-style poly-ethnic slamgrass at its best. For a different side of American roots music, Robert Randolph’s Live at Wetlands is nothing but soul power. The screaming energy of RR is infectious, and this i! s a great album for those who are on the edges of the scene, as the scared steel thrills people from all walks of life. Seasons 01 is a fine double disc set from Sector 9. Released in the spring, the concept album includes a number of songs, and jam sections presented as songs, that are atmospheric and mainly introspective. It’s a lush piece, though a bit mellower than most Sector 9 shows. Fellow Georgians Widespread Panic present an entire show plus bonus tracks with a multitude of guests on the award winning Live in the Classic City. As with Salmon’s effort, it is a fine tribute to a lost brother, in this case Mikey Houser, who passed away in August. Warm grooves and rolling rhythm are the hallmarks of the exceptional three-disc set. Staying south, Galactic’s We Love Em Tonight is a sampling of big swinging drums and NOLA fusion taken from three nights at Tipitina’s, and presented as a single set. Lastly, moe.‘s first Warts and All was a nominee, although the second volume has since been released. Both are intriguing CD sets, addictive really, the first being more song oriented and quirky, and the second, more jam-centric. The second volume also includes a hidden Spine > Buster from the previous night.

The Warts and All series isn’t technically archival since it is following a pattern of releasing one show per year, the showing being from that same year, rather than something from the vaults. In the same vein, but on a much larger scale, SCI has initiated its On the Road series, which chronicles nearly every show from the year. The great thing about that series is that the band has not changed its taping policy at all in conjunction with the dozens of new albums it currently has on the market. The discs are available after each tour from SCI, and a bit later, from some major music stores. Both spring and summer tours are now widely available, and from the former, keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth suggests 4/18, while I’m really enjoying 4/27.

On the archival front, Phish put out 10 more volumes of Live Phish, including the four Halloween costumes, and the Jammy recipient, 11/17/97. There is plenty of press on this website and others about these releases, but you really can’t wrong with just picking at random here, although Vol. 9 is a bit stiff. Of the Halloween shows, I’m particularly fond of Vol. 15 and Vol. 16 (_Remain in Light_ & Loaded). Again these make nice gifts for fringe fans that may be fans of the bands covered. The Dead released another selection from 1972’s European tour under the title Steppin’ Out, which was the original title for Europe 72. There is a ton of tight, clean music there, or if you’re looking for something later, Go to Nassau is the most recent addition to The Vault series. An exceedingly fun collection of individual songs and jam sections from two nights on Long Island in 1980, presented in the form of a single show, this one is definitely worth a listen. Also noteworthy, the most underrated GD release of the year is Postcards of the Hanging, a collection of live versions of Dylan covers, mostly from the eighties. It’s a fantastic set of songs, and hopefully a second volume with nineties era versions will follow. Also, Dick’s Picks celebrated its 25th release this year, but quickly released Vol. 26, which includes the classic Labor Temple show from 4/27/69- one of the greatest suites from that year. For a full guide to the Dick’s Picks series, check out "Dick’s Picks 1-25, A Guide to the Silver Mine" the September issue of

There are also a couple of other releases that deserve honorable mention. Steve Kimock Band put out two albums this year, the double disc East Meets West and the single disc Live in Colorado. Both are excellent examples of the warm, energetic, psychedelic sounds that are Steve’s trademark. His band really coalesced with the addition of bass hero Alphonso Johnson in late 2001, and spent 2002 thrilling fans and winning over droves of newbies. I favor Live in Colorado over East Meets West, but it has already sold out its full production. You may still be able to find through HGMN, though. Also The Slip’s Live Is My Jumby is a thrilling single disc that exhibits the group’s instrumental prowess. Not for the feint of heart, it is a musical onslaught of the highest caliber.

Obviously there are many new live releases that have escaped mention here, but the point should be clear: there are more than enough options to satisfy your gift giving needs in the coming holiday season. So do right by someone, and give the gift of groove.

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