The String Cheese Incident (3 Nights)

Over the past decade, The String Cheese Incident has emerged as one of America’s most significant independent bands. Born in 1993 in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, SCI has since released 11 albums, 7 DVDs and countless live recordings from their relentless tour schedule. Their 23 year history is packed full of surreal experiences, epic moments, groundbreaking involvement and huge accomplishments. They have been recognized for their commitment to musical creativity and integrity, for their community spirit, philanthropic endeavors, and for their innovative approach to the business of music. 

When The String Cheese Incident’s growth first started gaining momentum over a decade ago, when the Internet was just beginning to take hold and the major-label business model was failing, the band decided to make music on their own terms. Since then, The String Cheese Incident has gone on to carve out a completely different approach to the business of music; they are truly pioneers of a new way of “making a band.” With the World Wide Web as their tool, SCI was among the first artists to disseminate information via the Internet, such as tour dates, release information, and other news, to their growing fan base. Rather than doing business on such terms as “the bottom line,” The String Cheese Incident put their music and their fans first, opening companies of their own, including a ticketing company, a merchandise company and a fan travel agency, to best serve their community. The band’s record label, SCI Fidelity Records, has always operated under the same ideals. Even early on, SCI Fidelity embraced downloadable music and file sharing, delivering SCI’s “On The Road” series, where every show the band plays is made available for download on the Internet. Whether they realized it at the time or not, The String Cheese Incident was inventing grassroots band development. Today,
literally hundreds of bands are using some version of this same approach to building a band.

The String Cheese Incident’s commitment goes well beyond their immediate
community, and even beyond the music community as a whole. Early on, the band took a serious interest in giving back to the communities that they visited, and they were among the first performers to encourage “Green” shows and tours. SCI’s support has helped give rise to such not-for-profit organizations as Conscious Alliance, Rock the Earth, and HeadCount. All the while, The String Cheese Incident has stayed committed to music as a creative endeavor, not just in their recordings but also in their live performances. The list of SCI’s special guests and collaborators is long and diverse. Their annual events such as Horning’s Hideout, and holiday shows such as New Year’s and Halloween, have helped redefine the concert experience and has garnered the band a reputation as live music vibe innovators. 

In 2017, The String Cheese Incident released "Believe" on SCI Fidelity Records,
making it the second time the band collaborated with producer Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads. Harrison also produced “Song In My Head” for SCI in 2014, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart. “Believe” was recorded in the band’s newly founded HQ / studio in Boulder, dubbed the “Sound Lab”. Stay tuned for info on the next project coming out of the Sound Lab!

Joe Russo's Almost Dead

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"Not only does this quintet play tight and vicious versions of some of the most complex songs in the Grateful Dead's repertoire, but they play them with a rawness & energy absent from the stage since the 'Live' Dead era. More importantly, all of the jams are wild and incredibly adventurous. Russo's a beast behind the kit who's in the peak of his career. Metzger is a criminally underrated guitarist who has a chameleon-like ability to alter his sound to compliment any situation. Dreiwitz's intensity is unmatched by anyone, while Benevento spouts these crazy tones and layers of sound that mix the best of what each keyboardist in GD history brought to the band. Finally, add Hamilton, whose voice and biting leads help push this ensemble over the top." - Scott Bernstein, Jambase 9.12.13

Railroad Earth

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Railroad Earth is one of Americaʼs greatest bands playing today, plain and simple. They sing of our nationʼs changing landscape and social ills with a commitment reminiscent of Woody Guthrie, while interpolating instrumental timbres that could have been pulled from Celtic or Cajun culture. And as anyone who has caught them live will attest, their concerts are imbued with the fire-in-the-belly passion of straight-ahead, blue collar rock & roll. Then  here is the newest album from the New Jersey sextet, which is the most cohesive embodiment of their myriad gifts to date—hence the decision to simply call it Railroad Earth—showcasing nine new selections that draw strength and inspiration from an acknowledgment of our shared past, while also embracing new ideas and celebrating diversity… just like America when she is at her best.

Like their fellow musical travelers, from Bob Dylan and Gram Parsons to Wilco and altcountry chameleon, Ryan Adams, Railroad Earth eagerly embraced change in pursuit of an aesthetic breakthrough. “It was time to do something different,” admits lead singer, songwriter and guitarist Todd Sheaffer. He and his band mates—violinist Tim Carbone, mandolin player John Skehan, multi-instrumentalist Andy Goessling, and drummer Carey Harmon, plus new bassist Andrew Altman—have spent nearly a decade refining their sound and modus operandi. This time, however, they elected to take some cues from their new A&R man, Michael Caplan (Allman Brothers Band, Los Lonely Boys, Kebʼ Moʼ), and change up their game “to get a fresh perspective.” The result is the bandʼs most compelling set to date; encompassing rousing ballads and string-band funk, wistful waltzes and quirky time signature folk.

To realize this vision, Railroad Earth enlisted co-producer Angelo Montrone, whose résumé ranges from work with Matisyahu to Natalie Cole. Sheaffer credits Montrone for helping the band know when to scale back—and when to forge ahead. “We focused on the arrangements a lot more carefully and honed in on our ensemble playing.” The producer urged the band to draw out the rock elements of its sound, with additional electric guitars and even some judicious distortion, thanks to an arsenal of vintage amplifiers at Montroneʼs place. (“Theyʼll probably ban us from the bluegrass festivals,” chuckles Sheaffer.) The record even features some mean and dirty lap steel playing, courtesy of Goessling, which is a first on any Railroad Earth album.

Michael Caplan also encouraged the band to highlight one of its most secret weapons. “We have some great singers in this band, and weʼve always had a lot of background singing and harmonizing,” says Sheaffer. “This time we wanted to push it further and utilize that instrument more fully, so we spent a lot of time on the backing vocals.” It worked: Railroad Earth features some of the finest harmony singing committed to record. Just listen to “Black Elk Speaks,” as evidence; a masterpiece reminiscent of CSNY circa Déjà Vu, and inspired by the 1932 book of the same title, in which a Sioux medicine man recounts the changes heʼs witnessed in his lifetime. The poignancy of Sheafferʼs lyric and the electrified country-rock sound is enriched further as each new vocal part enters alongside him, harmonies and vibrations illuminating the songʼs spiritual core. Likewise, the humble lyric of “On the Banks” is suffused with a halo of golden light through the rich chorus of voices that surround Sheafferʼs gentle delivery.

That emphasis on the vocals works to underscore Sheafferʼs emergence as one of the most compelling lyricists of his generation. His succinct yet distinctive imagery and feel for the unique cadences of language, with key turns of phrase repeated, as if in prayer, fuse with the music to yield far more than the sum of its parts. “The Jupiter & the 119″ uses the tale of the first transcontinental railroad—which literally brought together the country, and united disparate camps in a common goal, to reflect upon the hopeful wave of union and transformation that swept over the nation following Barack Obamaʼs election. Putting a more personal spin on the sentiments of “Black Elk Speaks,” “Lone Croft Farewell” explores Sheafferʼs feelings about being driven from his New Jersey home to accommodate the construction of a massive electrical plant: “Theyʼre digginʼ at the edges… to build the power line / Same old story… but now the storyʼs mine.” Thereʼs even a ghost story, “Potterʼs Field,” about a Civil War-era specter of Scottish origin, wandering this mortal coil in search of peace. This classic-sounding, edgy folk song was inspired in part by a visit to the Old Man of Storr, a rocky hill on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. “The kind of place where you can feel the ancient spirits,” Sheaffer
says.

Only history and the passing of time can truly make a landmark. The first reference to Plymouth Rock came over 120 years after the Pilgrims landed on the Massachusetts shores circa 1620. Nevertheless, those first settlers knew that one phase of their journey had ended and another begun. And so it is with Railroad Earth. It may fall to our children and grandchildren to validate the albumʼs longevity and influence, to file it alongside Patti Smithʼs Horses or Neil Youngʼs Harvest as a record for the ages. But at the moment, anyone with ears should recognize its significance as a turning point in a great American story that is still unfolding.
 

The Motet

Music and escapism go hand-in-hand.

A concert or an album can unlock another world, if you let it. The Motet respect and revere this time-honored phenomenon. Fusing fiery funk, simmering soul, and improvisational inventiveness, the Denver, CO seven-piece—Lyle Divinsky [vocals], Dave Watts [drums], Joey Porter [keyboards], Garrett Sayers [bass], Ryan Jalbert [guitar], Parris Fleming [trumpet], and Drew Sayers [saxophone]—have continually provided an escape for listeners over the course of seven full-length albums since 1998, including their latest release Totem and with an upcoming 2018 release. That extends to countless sold out shows and festivals everywhere from Bonnaroo, Electric Forest, and Summer Camp to All Good Music Festival and High Sierra Music Festival as well as 16 consecutive years of themed Halloween concerts.

“When you’re listening to us, I want your mind to be taken away from wherever you are during the day and into some other place,” states Dave. “It’s all about that.”

After quietly building a diehard and devoted following, 2016 represented a watershed year for the musicians. They welcomed Lyle and Drew into the fold and released Totem, which drew acclaim from Relix, AXS, 303 Magazine, and many others. For the first time, The Motet sold out the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheater—the holy grail venue of their hometown—cataloged on Live at Red Rocks. Sell-outs followed everywhere from The Fillmore (San Francisco) and Tipitina’s (New Orleans) to Brooklyn Bowl (Brooklyn), Park West (Chicago), and Crystal Ballroom (Portland). The group locked into an unbreakable groove.

“We’ve never been a band that just blew up overnight,” Dave goes on. “We’ve been very tenacious about our movement forward. We’ve been through many different iterations throughout the years. Right now, it feels like we’ve got the lineup that’s making an impression on our scene. Lyle is the perfect match for us. He’s got musicality and this raw energy we all resonate with. He ignited this spark to put work in and write inspiring music.”

That spark lit again in 2017. Following Jam Cruise and a second Red Rocks gig, the band fired up the new single “Supernova.” Strutting between hypnotic horns and swaggering guitars, the track sees The Motet blast off to another galaxy. Quickly racking up over 150k Spotify streams in a month’s time, it instantly excited fans.

“‘Supernova’ is the first song that I was involved with from start to finish,” explains Lyle. “Joey brought in the initial musical idea. We expanded upon it and worked everything out. The word ‘Supernova’ kept jumping out to me. We decided to roll with that and give it an interstellar romantic dance theme.”

“Supernova” kicks off a series of upcoming singles that leads back to a third Red Rocks gig set for summer 2018. However, everything comes back to the escape that The Motet deliver.

“We want to take people on a journey,” Lyle leaves off. “In order to go on a journey, you have to participate. You can’t just simply let it happen around you. You have to give yourself into that journey. Everything is open. You’re free to be yourself. You’re free to go on that adventure and journey. We want to be the catalyst for listeners to understand themselves and the world around them.”

“This is a family,” concludes Dave. “We’ve got each other’s backs. We’re doing this, because we love to be around each other and create together. We’re committed to working together because we appreciate and respect what we have to say and provide the music world and our community.”

BoomBox

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BoomBox, the electronic work of songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Zion Rock Godchaux, released their EP Bits & Pieces in 2016. The new record is a further exploration of the band’s signature sound; an electronic blend of soulful Rock and Blues based dance music incorporating Backbeat, Psychedelia and Funky House sounds, which Godchaux veraciously refers to as “Dirty Disco Blues.” Performing on stage with Zion is DJ Harry, who holds it down on the 1s and 2s.

TAUK

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An intense touring schedule and focused studio time have helped TAUK tap into their singular chemistry to elevate and expand their all-instrumental blend of funk, hip-hop, progressive rock, and jazz. Renowned for both their refined musicality and unbridled creativity, the Oyster Bay, New York-bred rock-fusion four-piece (guitarist Matt Jalbert, bassist Charlie Dolan, keyboardist Alric “A.C.” Carter, and drummer Isaac Teel) push into new sonic terrain and build entire worlds within each richly textured soundscape.

The band has returned to the studio to craft a follow up to 2016’s Sir Nebula which found TAUK introducing a cosmically inspired element to their music. “The album ended up taking on a more ambient kind of vibe than anything we’ve done before—there’s a spaciness in the songs that lets you get lost in the sound,” says Dolan. And while the album is endlessly hypnotic, TAUK also deliver the dynamic tension-and-release jams that have helped earn them a devoted following while drawing critical acclaim (the Washington Post, for one, praised TAUK for “creating a hard-charging, often melodic fusion that—thanks to a penchant for improv—offers limitless possibilities”).

As with their past releases, TAUK is creating the follow up to Sir Nebula in collaboration with Grammy Award-winning producer/mixer/engineer Robert Carranza (The Mars Volta, Ozomatli, Jack Johnson, Taj Mahal). The band has been holed up in an abandoned house, turned studio on Long Island, NY a region which traces back to childhood, when longtime friends Dolan, Jalbert, and Carter formed their first band in seventh grade and held practice in their school basement. After playing together in various projects over the years, the trio brought Teel into the fold in 2012, cementing the final lineup. “We gelled pretty quickly as friends and as musicians, and now there’s a connection onstage that’s unspoken,” notes Teel. “You just feel it from the energy within
the band and from the response coming from the crowd—all these people in the same exact headspace.”

Since their formation, TAUK have shared stages with an impressive list of bands(including Widespread Panic, Umphrey’s McGee, Lettuce, and Tim Reynolds & TR3), in addition to appearing at festivals like Electric Forest, Bonnaroo, and The Allman Brothers’ Peach Music Festival. That rigorous touring schedule has gone a long way in strengthening their chemistry, according to Carter. “We’re doing over 100 shows a year and we pretty much live with each other, so there’s a healthy respect and trust and love happening there,” he says. “We all have a common goal and an understanding that this
is something we’re compelled to do, and that’s definitely brought us close together.” It’s also helped TAUK develop a reputation as a masterful live act: “TAUK is unstoppable,” raved Live for Live Music. “If you haven’t see them, dear God, go.”

Marco Benevento

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For more than a decade pianist Marco Benevento has been amassing an extensive body of work. His studio albums and live performances set forth a vision that connects the dots in the vast space between LCD Soundsystem and Leon Russell, pulsating with dance rock energy, but with smart, earthy songwriting to match. It has led to numerous high profile appearances, ranging from Carnegie Hall to Pickathon, Mountain Jam to Treefort Festival, while headlining shows coast to coast.

Marco Benevento’s latest studio LP, The Story of Fred Short, and its companion live release, The Woodstock Sessions, is some of his finest and most adventurous work to date—a maestro making "bold indie rock" says Brooklyn Vegan, while the LA Times raves, “Benevento continues to straighten his twisted sound into the guise of an indie-rock singer-songwriter, harnessing his inventive sonic palette into rewardingly bite-size pop songs that touch on disco and soul."  Honing his psych rock and late night dance party sensibilities, the recordings find the pianist citing everything from Harry Nilsson, Manu Chau and Gorillaz as inspiration.

As anybody who's seen Marco Benevento perform can attest, with eyes closed, smile wide across his face and fingers free-flowing across the keys, he's a satellite to the muse. With a devout and growing fan-base, Benevento is an artist whose story is only beginning to unfold.