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Published: 2007/01/23

Favorite Discs, Shows and Articles of 2006: Staff Picks

Site editor’s note: Well we’re back with our staff’s Best of 2006 overview. This year, I decided to lead with the Mikeys and I added a new questions that asked folks to name their favorite piece that ran on the site this year. Hopefully it will inspire you to go back and take a look

Mike Greenhaus

The Mikeys IV

If you asked me in May of 2000, the month I completed my freshman year of college, what bands appear most often in my itunes, urr CD player, the answer would most likely go something like this: Phish, Guster, the Disco Biscuits, The Grateful Dead, moe., the Slip, and Fat Mama. So, it is kind of funny, and even more fitting, that seven years, three apartments, and enough typos to make me question the spelling of my own name, many of those bands still top my annual, neurotic award ceremony. But, whether it’s the Slip’s newest set of songs, Joe Russo’s current set of hair products ,or my latest batch of Jewish guilt, the pieces fit together in slightly different order. Indeed, some bands are easy to grow out of, others you simply grow up with.

Albums:

Best indie-rock carpetbagger: The Slip-_Eisenhower_
Though The Slip’s Eisenhower sums up many of 2006’s central themes for me—-the rise of post-jam, the fall of Capitol Hill, the uncertainly of life as a single twenty-something born in July (though not of 1975)—-the best part of the year’s best release is that Brad Barr and company weren’t trying to be profound. And, as “Airplane/Primitive” postulates, if it’s truly “the day before the rest of my life,” I can only dream about what the Slip have in store for tomorrow.

Best “it band” without a “the” attached to its name: Cold War Kids-Robbers & Cowards
Hipsters these days. One night their playing an opening spot at the Bowery Ballroom and then you go to the bathroom and by the time you flush the toilet their selling out the place as a headliner (for, as the blogosphere reminds me, three nights). But if any group deserves the buzz it is this batch of artists, who managed to figure out that Billie Holiday and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah aren’t necessarily strange bedfellows.

Best heterosexual take on Siegfried & Roy’s shtick: The Benevento/Russo Duo-_Play Pause Stop_
Tom Hamilton and Joe Russo may be the next Brad and Jen, but, for me, Marco and Joe will always the true Wayne and Garth. And, as Wayne’s World once mused, “I now know that plutonic love can exist between two fully grown men.” Oh, and their new album is pretty hot too.

Best reason to stalk a member of the opposite sex on MySpace: The Elected-_Sun, Sun, Sun_
So, I was minding my own business, quietly stalking some girl I met at a bar on MySpace, when all of the sudden the Elected’s “Fireflies in a Steel Mill” popped into my speakers. Low and behold these guys sound like the Byrds, only fronted by Rilo Kiley. I didn’t get the girl, but I sure as hell got the CD.

Best proto-post-jam indie-rock revivalists: Built to Spill-_You in Reverse_
Built to Spill looks like Wilco fronted by Bill Nershi, sounds like My Morning Jacket crossed with the Arcade Fire, and jams like Neil Young on the Slip’s budget. Oh, and their fans complain like PT dwellers on Pitchfork.

Reissues and Live Albums:

Best reason to pull the Pharmer’s Almanac out from under your pillow: Phish: Colorado ’88
I’m not sure who is band is, but I sure wish they were still around. nuff said

Best obligatory My Morning Jacket award: MMJ- Okonokos
Given all the praise he’s received in the past year, I’m not sure Jim James even has room on his mantel to place a Mikey. But, if he does, I hope he thanks me by breaking out “Bermuda Highway” next time he comes to town.

Best inverted breakup concert souvenir: The Disco Biscuits- The Wind at Four to Fly
For those keeping score at home, this two-disc set is the first of two albums to capture Sam Altman’s first final five nights with the Disco Biscuits (but which turned out to actually be his thirteenth to last shows). No matter, by the time you get through the 17:25 minute “Story of the World” you’ll wish they’d release disc another seventeen discs.

Shows:

Best music industry conference disguised as a music festival: Bonnaroo, Manchester, TN
Five years after some wook stole all our worldly belongings in the name of peace, love, and Tennessee Moonshine at the inaugural Bonnaroo, I’ve figured out to key to surviving Bonnaroo: don’t worry about seeing music . Seriously. Like a needle in a haystack, you will stumble into the weekend’s best offerings, whether it’s G.R.A.B.’s surprise debut, Pavement’s surprise semi-reunion, or Steel Train’s surprise use of a windbreaker in 80 degree weather. Indeed, Bonnaroo keeps me on my toes and, if living in the moment isn’t what Woodstock was about then acres of mud surely is.

Best Organ Donner Rap: Phil Lesh and Friends f. Trey Anastasio @ Beacon Theater, New York NY, 2-12-06
As an unabashed, all around dork, I’ve often joked that life couldn’t get much better than watching Phish and the Grateful Dead jam together while chugging a tall glass of chocolate milk. Well, on this snowy Sunday night at least one lifelong dream came true when Trey Anastasio joined Phil Lesh for his entire set at the Beacon Theater. To top it off the Beacon gave out free hot chocolate all night, resulting in a sensory overload not even a drunk text message could properly convey (though G-d and my phone bill both know I tried).

Best reason to put down your pen and take a stroll down shakedown: All Good, Masontown, WV, July 14-16
Living in New York and working in an office filled with critics (who sometimes discuss music), it’s easy to forgot that concerts aren’t meant to be analyzed. But All Good keeps it real and, for the first time, managed to keep it dry as well. From the Disco Biscuits to ALO to G.R.A.B. to Grace Potter, every performer arrived in top form and, I realized that some areas of shakedown have thankfully avoided gentrification.

Articles
Best Reason to Surrender All My Heady Cred.: Guster

If Guster arrived in New York for the first time tonight, not in 1995, and ditched the bongos around the time of George W. Bush’s first election, Zach Braff may very well have inserted a life changing Ganging up on the Sun advertisement into his Garden State fantasy. And, though it’s impossible to change the past, it’s sure as hell fun to revisit, which is why I consider this column my own personal Natalie Portman

_The First Person Award (for self-indulgence):_American Babies on Cold Turkey (at Langerado)
Even if we sound like a Jewish version of Chip and Dale, I love doing Cold Turkey every week (or at least every festival). And, this acoustic set recorded backstage at Langerado was not only my favorite episode, but also our most trafficked.
Plus having Magner sit-in made it kosher!

Randy Ray

Favorite Disc:
1) Acid Mothers Temple – Have You Ever Seen the Other Side of the Sky?
2) David Grisman and Andy Statman – New Shabbos Waltz
3) Trey Anastasio – 18 Steps
4) Belle and Sebastian – The Life Pursuit
5) Califone – Roots and Crowns

Favorite re-issue:
1) Gram Parsons -_The Complete Reprise Sessions_
2) Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Brotherman in the Fatherland
3) Benevento/Russo Duo w/ Mike Gordon – Bonnaroo 2005

Favorite Live show:
1) Trey Anastasio – Stubb's – Austin, TX – 10/31/06
2) Richie Havens – Bitter End – New York, NY – 4/21/06
3) Papa Mali – Rhythm Room – Phoenix, AZ – 10/12/06

Favorite article on the site:
Gregg Allman piece by Mike Greenhaus

John Patrick Gatta

Well, strike one up for the Old Guard because this year's list is loaded with a lot of music veterans who impressed me not just with the quality of their albums, but their desire to not to toss out the same old same old and produce a safe moneymaker.

Favorite Discs (in no particular order)
Bruce Springsteen We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (having a blast taking the songs of the past and proving, unfortunately, that they're as relevant today)

Neil Young Living With War (simultaneously sounds like a rushed off letter to the editor and a clarion call to get off our asses)

Johnny Cash American V: A Hundred Highways (tough enough to write his own eulogy with typically dark humor and grace)

Bob Dylan Modern Times (i recall how rough his voice was the last several times i saw him play, but he smooths things out in relation to the ebuliant swing of the music. an amazing track record over the past decade)

Beth Orton Comfort of Strangers (still transfixed by this record)
(bonus) The Bottle Rockets Zoysia (undervalued, shouldn't be underappreciated)

Favorite re-issue
The Byrds There Is A Season (wide-range of styles that are consistently done right and useful a history lesson)

The Pogues (_If I Should Fall From Grace With God_)

The Cure (_Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me_)

Favorite Live show
Bonnaroo for the entire four days, especially the mesmerizing electric atmosphere during My Morning Jacket, which i could only handle for awhile as i lost my battle with a major headache.

Bruce Springsteen & the Seger Sessions Band, May 30, Germain Amphitheatre, Columbus, Ohio (the crowd wasn't large but the ever-energetic Springsteen played as if it was a sold out Ohio State University Stadium.. a hootenany, indeed!)

Favorite article on the site

Andy Miller- Daddy, Where Do Hippie Festivals Go When They Die?
For someone who promoted a number of club shows and benefits, it was interesting with occasionally painful flashbacks to read the background of what goes into providing a music festival without going in debt for life.

Dean Budnick

Favorite Discs

Bob Dylan- Modern Times- Even if I rarely get past “Thunder on the Mountain” and “Spirit on the Water” before starting over again I and still can’t quite understand how Dylan is collecting publishing on “Rollin’ and Tumblin.”

Honkytonk Homeslice, Honkytonk Homeslice – For a period of time, the Reivers were my favorite band in the world. This warm disc scratches that forgotten itch.

Yo La Tengo I am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass- They’ve traveled a heady distance from Fakebook (a personal favorite) yet they remain eminently satisfying

Ornette Coleman Sound Grammar- I’m not sure if I’d call this my sentimental pick because at times Ornette seems to eschew sentiment with his off-kilter vocab (but just then)

The Disco Biscuits- The Wind To Fly at Four- Custom-crafted for auto travel

Honorable Mention: moe.- The Conch- My latest go-to disc for long car rides. It remains to be seen if it’ll land on my 2007 list (where it really belongs as it came out this year) but I had that advance for a while in heavy rotation.

Reissues

Phish Colorado ’88 – Of course

Miles Davis The Legendary Prestige Quintet Sessions- ssia

Favorite live shows

Allman Brothers Band, 3/11/06, Beacon Theater- This would make it solely for Roy Haynes sitting up with the ABB during "Afro Blue.” Nonetheles this was a keeper throughout and came with a bonus Frampton kicker.

The Cat Empire, 6/15/06, Bonnaroo- It seems that every year some band I know only vaguely will knock me on my ass during that Thursday night at Bonnaroo, sending me scurrying back to my computer to absorb all that I can about them. This was the year of The Cat Empire.

Anastasio, Gordon, Benevento & Russo 7/3/06, Hartford- This one brought me back even as it fixed my eyes on the horizon.

Honorable Mention: Widespread Panic, 9/22/06, Boston- Seeing Jimmy Herring with Panic just energized me, as it clearly did for the band.

Jake Krolick

Favorite Discs

1. TV on the Radio – Return to Cookie Mountain 2. The Slip – Eisenhower 3. Cold War Kids – Robbers & Cowards
4. The Flaming Lips – At War With The Mystics
5. Michael Houser – Sandbox

Favorite Live show
1. Hands down! The Black Crowes – Philadelphia, PA – Festival Pier – 07/29/06 2. Jacob Fred Jazz Odessey – Philadelphia, PA – Chris' Jazz Cafe – 06/15/06 3. Widespread Panic w/Sam Holt – Portsmouth, Va – NTELOS Pavilion – 08/5/06

Favorite article on the site

Toss-up between Randy Ray’s interview w/ Wayne Ewing about H.S.T or Dean Budnick’s – Let it Z interview with Jimmy Herring.

Rob Turner

Favorite Disc

The Slip – Eisenhower
Mother Vinegar – self-titled
My Morning Jacket – Okonokos
Tom Waits – Orphans
Umphrey's McGee – Safety In Numbers

Favorite re-issue

Johnny Cash – Live at San Quentin
Phish – Colorado ’88
Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band – Ice Cream For Crow

Favorite Live show
Tom Waits – The Tabernacle; Atlanta, GA; August 1, 2006
Acoustic Planet Show with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Umphrey's McGee and Adrian Belew – Chastain Park Amphitheater, Atlanta, GA; August 16, 2006
My Morning Jacket/The Slip – Roseland Theater; New York City, NY; November 30, 2006

Favorite article on the site
Came Dancin’ Across the WaterJam Cruise Recollections, Photos and Drinking Game

Brad Farberman

My favorite discs of 2006, in no particular order:

Beck, The Information
Skerik's Syncopated Taint Septet, Husky
The Slip, Eisenhower
The Little Willies, The Little Willies
Club d'Elf, Now I Understand

Favorite Live Shows:

12/31/06, Tonic, NYC, John Zorn, Milford Graves, Guy Licata, Bill Laswell, Mick Barr and Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra featuring Jennifer Charles- Awesome night. One set of noisy drum n bass, and one set of old-ass jazz.

11/4/06, Pearl Street Nightclub, Northampton, MA, The Coalition of the Willing- 10 minutes to showtime, there's a blackout in Northampton. Unable to play guitar or keys, Charlie Hunter and Robert Walter are forced to sit this one out. Skerik and Bobby Previte perform an improvised set of music lit only by flashlights.

Spring Heel Jack: Spring Heel Jack, from London, are a rotating collective of avant-garde players, a free-jazz Club d'Elf if you will. While living in the UK for four months in 2006, I was fortunate enough to catch these guys on several occasions, at dive bars and at an art gallery, with a diverse cast of "friends" that included free-jazz legends Han Bennink, Evan Parker and John Tchicai, a former associate of John Coltrane. One time, I caught them playing bird calls from a turntable and nature sounds from a boombox while Parker improvised soprano saxophone licks on top of it all. They have a few records out on Thirsty Ear.

Brad Hodge

Favorite Discs
1. Solomon Burke- Nashville
2. The New Orleans Social Club- Sing Me Back Home
3. The Black Angels- Passsover
4. Gov't Mule- High and Mighty

Favorite re-issues
1. Muddy Waters- Electric Mud
2. David Byrne and Brian Eno- My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
3. The Byrds- There is a Season

Favorite Live shows
1. MMJ The Ryman; Nashville, TN 2. Wolfmother Exit In; Nashville, TN
3. Ivan Neville's Dumpsta Funk @ Bonnaroo

Favorite article on the site
Andy Miller- Daddy, Where Do Hippie Festivals Go When They Die?

Allen Ostroy

Favorite Discs

Ryan Montebleau – One Fine Color
The Brew – The Key
John Mayer – Continuum

Favorite re-issue

Strangefolk -_Lore_

Favorite Live shows
John Hiatt – Casino Ballroom – 8/10/06
Strangefolk – Gathering of the Vibes
AOD – Gathering of the Vibes
Nate Wilson Group – Stone Church – sometime in July…

Favorite article on the site

Although I read and enjoy them all I think the interview with Paul Languedoc about guitar-making jumps out at me. I really like the behind-the-scenes stuff and as a failed guitar player I never knew anything about how they're madeand how long it takes to make them.

I also loved Andy Miller’s Daddy, Where Do Hippie Festivals Go When They Die?

Taylor Hill

Favorite Disc

Bob Dylan Modern Times – It was like the prophet Ezekiel went into the studio. Nothing like this has ever been recorded.

Favorite re-issue

Democratic control of Congress. I cried like a baby on when Nancy Pelosi was sworn in because I knew that someone was going to try and put a stop to the untold human suffering, foreign and domestic, caused by the systematic neglect the Bush Administration has demonstrated regarding almost every imaginable aspect of policy. Knowing that the Clinton utopia of balanced budgets and wide-open futures has vanished, but, at the same time, we may not be totally f—-ed. That said, it's still really cool to be friends with Ann Coulter – the Grateful Dead really do unite everyone.

Trey Anastasio re-issuing the horns. I'm glad he decided not to suck and to bring the magic back.

Favorite Live show
Radiohead at Bonnaroo. I used to have shows that competed in my mind for greatest show I've ever seen. Radiohead destroyed them all. Thom Yorke is a maniac, with white-boy dancing that shames Taylor Hicks. I felt like I was in a sandstorm in the middle of the desert, but that there was an eye in the sandstorm and we were all standing in it, and that Radiohead was the sandstorm. 5th row center and Thom looks right at us randomly during Kid A and screams. I didn't know if he was going to stab somebody or summon dancing broomsticks or what. He is the greatest frontman for any band that I have ever seen, and that includes the Rolling Stones. It changed forever the way I look at concerts. Go to youtube.com and look up "radiohead first two songs" and watch the second song, "15 Step" which starts at the 3:47 mark. You'll lose bowel control.

Favorite article on the site

Anything Randy Ray writes is the most intricately detailed and well-researched interview I have ever read. I can only imagine how much time he puts into everything. Most of the people he interviews I have never heard of or am only vaguely familiar with, but at the end of each of his articles I wish I were more familiar with said person.

Bret Gladstone

Albums:
1.) Bob Dylan- Modern Times
2.) Cat Power- The Greatest
3.) My Morning Jacket- Okonokos
4.) Tom Waits- Orphans
5.) The Raconteurs- Broken Boy Soldiers Arctic Monkeys- Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not The Knife- Silent Shout

Reissues:
What It Is! Funky Soul and Rare Grooves (1967-1977)
The Beatles- Love!
Pavement- Wowee Zowee: Sordid Sentinels Edition

Shows:
1.)My Morning Jacket— Roseland Ballroom 11/30
The Knife- Webster Hall 11/1
2.)Radiohead- Madison Square Garden Theatre 6/14
3.)Bob Dylan/ The Raconteurs- Wachovia Spectrum 11/18

Tyler Blue

Favorite Discs:
Michael Franti and Spearhead – Yell Fire
The Beatles – Love
The Motet – Instrumental Dissent

Reissue:
Johnny Cash – Personal File
The Beach Boys -_Pet Sounds (40th Anniversary Edition)_

Favorite Live Show:
ALO "mAyfLOwers II" – 5/28/06 Los Robles Lodge – Santa Rosa, CA
Planet Drum – 9/20/06 Lobero Theater – Santa Barbara, CA
Trey Anastasio Band – 12/10/06 Wiltern Theater – Hollywood, CA

Favorite Article on the Site:
The interview with Brad Sands

Dan Greenhaus

Favorite Disc: I am one of the people who do not believe "music today sucks." I don’t believe the best is behind us, and 2006 was yet another year proving that thesis incorrect. In a year in which a dozen albums could make a "favorite" list, choosing just a few is not an easy feat. Few people would argue with either Beck’s The Information or The Slip’s Eisenhower, and I also loved The Hold Steady’s Boys and Girls in America. But I found no other two albums got more play on my Itunes than either Lily Allen’s Alright, Still or The Scissor Sisters’ Ta-Dah. Few albums this year were more fun while still maintaining musical respectability.

Favorite re-issue: Phish 12/29/97. This is the stock answer, but there’s a reason for it. I vividly remember where I was standing for the second set (page side, eye level with the band), a set which remains among the best sets of Phish I’ve ever witnessed. The band was winding down 1997 and did so in fine, fine fashion. The way the band went from Bowie to Possum was just as amazing at the time as it is now on disc. Favorite Live Show: In a year in which I saw all four members of Pink Floyd perform on stage at two different shows, this question is invariably going to be difficult. That being said, while I enjoyed the Roger Waters show, as a whole, more than I enjoyed the David Gilmour concert, Gilmour's performance of "Echoes" simply goes down as the peak musical moment of the year and is, perhaps, the greatest song I have ever seen performed live by any musician or group of musicians. Favorite Article on the Site: Randy Ray’s "Does Humor Belong in Music Writing?" – Besides being a great guy, Randy's writing is always a pleasure to read and while I could've picked virtually anything he wrote this year, this article seemed to stick out in my mind. Aaron Benor

Studio Albums:
Built To Spill – You in Reverse
Nina Simone – Remixed and Reimagined
The Slip – Eisenhower

Archival Releases:
Ulrich Schnauss – Far Away Passing Trains
Tom Waits – Orphans: Bawlers, Brawlers and Bastards
What It Is! – Funky and Rare Grooves 1967-1977

Concerts:
Tom Waits – The Tabernacle Theatre, 8/1/06 (listed first because it was the best)
Brain Damaged Eggmen – Jam Cruise 4, 1/10/06
Jim James – Vegoose Music Festival, 10/29/06

Rob Johnson

Favorite Discs

The Codetalkers- Now
The Derek Trucks Band—_Songlines_
Tea Leaf Green—_Rock and Roll Band_
The Radiators-_-Dreaming Out Loud_

Favorite re-issue

John Coltrane—_A Love Supreme Deluxe Edition_
Jimi Hendrix—_Rainbow Bridge_ (DVD)

Favorite Live show

Col. Bruce Hampton and the Aquarium Rescue Unit—10/28/06
Railroad Earth—Wanee Festival
Moonshine Still—Down on the Farm Festival

John Wood

Favorite Discs

Los Lobos – The Town and The City
Neil Young – Living With War
Railroad Earth – Elko
Bob Dylan – Modern Times
Elvis Costello & Allen Toissaunt – The River In Reverse

Favorite re-issues

Neil Young – Live At The Fillmore East
David Crosby – If I Could Only Remember My Name (because of the DVD audio)

Favorite Live shows

Besides Telluride and Rockygrass…

7/6 – Railroad Earth @ Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom, Denver – A superb, inspired show from start to finish; with a "Seven Story Mountain" so exceptional that the crowd clapped in time for nearly thirty seconds after the epic ended, then gave a hearty round of applause. A show loaded with superb musicianship, passion and heart (and far superior to the lame 7/1 Ratdog & String Cheese Incident show at Red Rocks at 1/4th the ticket price!)

7/17 – CSNY @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison, CO – To hear the bulk of Neil Young's important Living With War, along with inspired efforts from Crosby and Nash, gave for a memorable concert, despite the riduculous ticket prices.

8/19 – David Grisman Quintet @ Mishawaka Amphitheatre, Bellvue, CO – An inspired, organic performance from the DGQ, with the second set featuring crisp takes from the then pending-new album, Dawg's Groove.

Honorable Mention:
8/11 – The James Gang @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison, CO – A wonderful trip back to 1971, with superb performances of classics like "Tend My Garden", "Take A Look Around", and an unforgettable "The Bomber." Not to mention that if you're going to hear the ublitiquous "Rocky Mountain Way", where better than Red Rocks? So, why didn't this make the top three? Because a 85 minutes, the show was simply several songs too short!

Lydia Cox

Favorite Discs

1. Yell Fire!- Michael Franti & Spearhead
2. So Much More – Brett Dennen
3. Orphans – Tom Waits
4. Ways Not To Lose – The Wood Brothers
5. Begin To Hope – Regina Spektor

Honorable Mention: Big Iron World – Old Crow Medicine Show

Favorite Live show

1. Yonder Mountain String Band – August 26 – Northwest String Summit
2. Michael Franti & Spearhead – October 13 – The Paramount Theatre
3. The Del McCoury Band – June 21 – Tractor Tavern

Honorable Mention:
Greyboy Allstars – March 9 – The Showbox Yard Dogs Road Show – August 15 – Nightlight Lounge Campbell Brothers – July 7 – Nightlight Lounge

Favorite article on the site

How Do I Spell "Irony"? A: J-A-M-A-I-C-A by Andy Miller

Jon Hansen

Favorite Discs:
Pearl Jam Pearl Jam
Wood Brothers – Ways Not to Lose
The Mars Volta – Amputechture
Thom Yorke – The Eraser
Dave Burrell and Billy Martin – Consequences

Favorite Re-issue:
Brian Eno & David Byrne – My Life in the Bush of Ghosts

Favorite Live Show:
MMW w/Trey Anastasio – 10K Lakes 7/22/06 Widespread Panic – Riverside Theater 10/21/06 Pearl Jam & MMJ – United Center 5/17/06

Favorite Article:
Guitar Talk with Paul Languedoc

Sarah Moore

Favorite Discs

5. Mastodon – Blood Mountain
4. The Benevento/Russo Duo – Play, Pause, Stop
3. Old Crow Medicine Show – Big Iron World
2. The Codetalkers – Now
1. Les Claypool – Of Whales and Woe

Favorite re-issue

Rahsaan Roland Kirk Brotherman in the Fatherland
Delaney & Bonnie -_Home_

Favorite Live show

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings Alley Katz, Richmond, VA 2/1
Old Crow Medicine Show Canal Club, Richmond, VA 10/27
Homemade Knives The Bone Zone, Richmond, VA 11/11

Favorite article on the site

Russo and Benevento, Stop Pause and Play Randy Ray

Brian Bavosa

Favorite Discs:

1.) Beck – The Information — Beck is a musical genius in my eyes. Period. I have always been a fan of his, but this album solidified that for life. The man constantly reinvents himself, and has the most amazing imagination since Willy Wonka.

2.) Pure Jerry – 11.9.91 – Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA — I have always, and always will LOVE the JGB. They play with just so much soul and passion that it makes me feel alive. I once wrote a mini-thesis in grad school about how the JGB teaches you how to fall in love, get your heart broken, and be redeemed, all within the span of one set, or a single show. These discs feature all of that…and Bruce Hornsby.

3.) Bruce Springsteen – We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions — How can you not appreciate what The Boss does here? From an all out kick-your-ass-all-over-the-place sweaty, rock show to a stripped down version of Seeger's tunes. '06 for me was a complete year of rediscovering myself, so those seemed to be the albums I truly appreciated—artists shedding one set of skin they've had for so long to try on another foreign one. (The tour was great, too).

4.) There's also a ton of Hip-Hop stuff that I fancied quite a bit in '06.

Favorite Re-Issue:

This one is a no-brainer. It's the Grateful Dead's Reckoning, (with bonus material). I've always had a very strong affinity towards the Dead's run of shows at Radio City and the Warfield in October of 1980. Maybe it's because I was born in the middle of them! As for Reckoning, when I was in high school and college, this was always on of my two "go-to albums" for bedtime. (The other was The Samples' self-titled debut—the blue disc). It was THE perfect way to drift off to sleep. My biggest complaint was that I sometimes made it all the way through the disc before getting to bed, only to have to play it again. This re-issue with 16 bonus tracks solves that problem.

Favorite Live Shows:

In '06, I managed to see over 100 shows…again. So, I sure saw a ton of super music. But, these are the three that stand out as most meaningful to me, and why:

1.) Phil and Friends w/ Trey Anastasio – 2.12.06 – Beacon Theater, NYC
The day of the biggest snowstorm NYC has seen in a while, two of my best buds and I braved all elements to get to the Upper West Side by 6 pm or so. Once I saw Brad Sands walking around outside, I knew it was ON…but, never expected Trey for the entire show, especially a "Help>Slip>Franklin's" opener, and a cosmic "St. Stephen" in the 2nd set. The encore even saw a sorely missed "Wolfman's Brother," and harmonica from photog Danny Clinch. It was amazing to see the magic, and be part of what would eventually end up as one of the summer's biggest double tours. The kicker, the Beacon was maybe 3/4 full, AND they gave out free hot chocolate at the door.

2.) Perpetual Groove – "Surf-N-Turf" Weekend – September 15 and 16 – NYC
From their "Just Cruisin' 3" trip around the city from 1-4 am, to an absolutely smokin' show the next night at the Knitting Factory, this was the weekend I feel solidified PGroove as earning their stripes in this notoriously tough town. Lionel Ritchie's "All Night Long" was a song I had been bugging the guys to play in NYC for a while, and as they hit the stage, Matt McDonald basically ushered me to the front of his rig, and played two feet away from me. Toss in a little hip-hop rap and filthy cover of "No Sleep 'til Brooklyn," and I was a maniac on a boat (see: Jamcruise also).

3.) Jurassic 5 – Vegoose Music Festival – October 28 – Las Vegas, NV
This might not have been the "best" show I saw in '06, but it was one of the most memorable. After working at a TON of shows for HeadCount and our "Midterms Matter" tour this past year, we had our final push before the elections at Vegoose. We were all dressed up as former presidents—myself as "Honest" Abe Lincoln—beard, top hat, and all. So, picture this: a bunch of kids getting down to some funky hip-hop and freestyle hooks, with Abe Lincoln, Bill Clinton, JFK, and co. right next to them, in Vegas, on Halloween weekend. When J5 played "Freedom," I felt as if all of my efforts this summer to try and contribute back the community that has defined my life, was all worth it. Surely a moment of great personal accomplishment to me, that I won't soon forget.

Favorite Article on the Site:

Tough one, but I distinctly remember reading Randy Ray's interview with Brad Sands, from very early in '06 ("Back on the Train"). It was nice to get a glimpse into how Brad landed the job, and a it showed a side of him, other than his back when Trey was throwing stuff at him! I just thought it was cool how he went from fan to being with them every step of the way on the road, where their magic happened. That's sort of the way I've gotten to know bands over the years. I could relate to him. I especially loved when he said: "I felt like I was going to brown nose my way into this like 'this is the nicest kid we've ever met.' That is EXACTLY how I have approached this scene and music over the last 13 years.

Adam Alperowicz

Studio Album:
1) The Benevento/Russo Duo – Play Pause Stop – Sums up my year better than anything else. I've listened to it far too many times, and I still love it when it comes on
2) Mouse on Mars – Varcharz – Blew my mind from the first time I heard it. Hardcore, schizo electronica that opened my eyes to a lot of great music
3) The Slip – Eisenhower – Great indie rock album from a great jamband. Sums up the scene in 2007 very well

Re-issue:
1) What It Is! Funky Soul And Rare Grooves (1967-1977) – Various Artists – This box has more grooves in four discs than the last four decades combined. Get down!
2) Phish – Colorado ’88 – Perfect portrait of a diamond in the rough
3) The Ultimate Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd – A "unofficial" (read: bootleg) DVD-A release of Alan Parson's original quadraphonic mix. Simply amazing.

Live Shows:
1) The Disco Biscuits – 12/29/06, TLA, Philadelphia, PA – The most well played show I have ever seen from the band. Check out the palindrome to start set II for a taste of the monster that is the Disco Biscuits on stage
2) Jim James – 10/29/06, Vegoose Music Festival, Las Vegas, NV – Almost religious experience. I sat as close as possible and stared as he poured his heart out on stage through his gorgeous songs. I walked out of the tent with my soul cleansed
3) Mouse on Mars – 11/11/06, Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY – I have fallen big time in love with all things Mouse on Mars in 2006 and my first time seeing them was no exception

Jambands.com article:
"Ornithology with Mike Gordon: From An Owl to A Ramble Dove" – Mike Greenhaus -The quote "I just have always had a good feeling about owls" still cracks me up.

John Zinkand

Favorite Live Shows

12/21/06 Zappa Plays Zappa – Roseland Theater, Portland, OR- It was a pleasure to see Frank Zappa’s music played so enthusiastically and faithfully. Dweezil’s band and guitar playing were excellent. Being able to watch guitar wizard Steve Vai and drummer extraordinaire Terry Bozzio up close and personal added more greatness to an already stellar show.

10/19/06 Umphrey’s McGee – Roseland Theater, Portland, OR- The band was just particularly on fire this night. The always seem to play enthusiastically when in Portland, and this night was no exception. This solid show was peppered with classics like Nothing Too Fancy, Dump City, and All in Time. The band’s usual high energy playing was complimented by a rap medley, Norwegian Wood teases, and a guest appearance by Brock Butler of Perpetual Groove.

9/7/06 Tea Leaf Green – Dante’s, Portland, OR- Tea Leaf Green rocked Portland on this September night. The sound was loud, the band was rocking, and the audience was loving it. Song after song of high powered guitar rock filled the intimate room with ear numbing sound.

Dan Alford

Favorite shows

This year there was no competition for best show: Herbie Hancock at Carnegie Hall on June 23rd. A celebration of the man and his music, it was a lesson in jazz history told in four acts: a trio, a quintet, a duet and the grand quartet. The opening trio alone would’ve been worth the night: Herbie, Ron Carter and Jack DeJohnette just bounding and tumbling through forty minutes of stellar group mind, plus Michael Brecker joining at the end. The touring quintet was full of eclectic sounds smashed together- afrobeat guitarist Lionel Loueke standing out as a refreshingly original sound, along with bass journeyman Matt Garrison. Plus, that mini set closed with Herbie on a portable synth for “Chameleon”, like some cheeseball 80s rocker. After a stunning piano duet with Gonzalo Rubalcaba- so many notes, such organic interaction, particularly on “Footprints”- the night finished with the greatest band on the planet: Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Dave Holland and Brian Blade. Words cannot do justice to the utter majesty of this quartet. At a moment, Shorter was in charge, screaming and slashing, suddenly soothing. At a moment, Holland was in control with sinuous, bent lines and fast flourishes. At a moment, Hancock was racing, fleet fingered to the right and dropping down, muffled and rumbly, to the left. All the while Brian Blade was constantly erupting and leaping off his stool, stabbing and parrying with an array of sticks, mallets, brushes or just his bare hands. The band was anything but egoless jamming. It was instead a collection of strength in personality and respect, old gods at play. Maybe the best show I’ve ever seen.

But it was a long year and some honorable mentions (admittedly heavy on the GD camp) go to: Ratdog as a rockin’ bar band on 3/21 in Danbury, CT, and as Space Patrol in Albany, NY on 11/3; Phil and Friends on 2/15 at The Beacon (a great show with no guests); 7/2 at SPAC, especially set I (also with no guests); 7/7 at Jones Beach, especially the wild second set with Trey- a dream setlist; moe. in Central Park for a beautiful summer night of killer music; GRAB in Hartford on 7/3, although in the future I’ll take my GRaB with a lower case “a”, thanks; Herring, Rogers, Sipe and Fountain at Mexicali Blues, a true jamband super group of the old school; GOTV, which regained its eminent status last year, and kept it going strong this year; WSP at Radio City: that moment when Jimmy first hit the stage was priceless, and the “Pleas” > “Imitation Leather Shoes” that followed was better than perfect; DSO at the Nokia on 11/25, especially the “Playing” > “Visions of Johanna”- Thanksgiving and Grateful Dead music taste good together.

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