Celebrating 20 Years Of JamBase

Farewells Of The Past 2 Decades

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This year marks the 20th anniversary of JamBase. Part of the yearlong celebration includes the 20 For 20 series featuring 20 lists focusing on 20 notable topics and events of the JamBase era. The lists were compiled by current and former JamBase staff members and contributors, music industry professionals and other experts. Stay tuned for more, as the series continues throughout 2019 and we look back at two decades of encouraging fans to Go See Live Music!

Previous 20 For 20 Lists include Standout Debut Albums By Jam Acts, Pranks & Gags Played By Jam Acts, Festivals We’ve Lost and Memorable Reunions. Next up is a look at 20 Farewells Of The Past 2 Decades.

We’ve had some major players exit the scene over the last 20 years (in some cases, only to re-emerge a few years later), and many did so in dramatic fashion. Or, if not dramatic, at least enough to provide longtime fans the closure they needed to say goodbye.

Here are 20 standout farewell shows from the past 20 years:

God Street Wine
Dec 23, 1999


[Video Credit: Mantoloking]

One of the seminal Northeast jam bands, God Street Wine appeared over and done with after a remarkable run that stretched all the way back to the late 1980s and the foundations of the modern jam scene. After a decade of lovingly thorough shows as well as a few bumps in the road, GSW in 1999 announced they would be disbanding and would close things up with a three-night run at the legendary jam band clubhouse The Wetlands Preserve.

Then-former members of the lineup came through alongside newer members, as did old friends like John Popper, Oteil Burbridge and Max Verna. All in all, the run was three nights and seven sets of music, captured for posterity on GSW’s 2000 live album Good To The Last Drop.

At first, they weren’t gone long; GSW reunited in 2001 to help close the Wetlands. But then it wouldn’t be until 2009 that God Street’s original lineup came back together for semi-private shows in New Jersey that fans lucky enough to attend felt were good enough to anticipate a more fleshed out reunion.

While God Street has never come back long enough to be described as a full return, they’ve had activity almost every year since those 2009 shows, from appearances on Jam Cruise and jams with the likes of Phil Lesh and Bob Weir, to the release of a boxed set in 2013 and their first new studio album in 2019. All GSW concerts since 2009 have featured the original lineup, though former members Peter Levin and Jason Crosby have made guest appearances with the core band.


Dispatch
Jul 31, 2004


[Video Credit: The General]

They billed themselves as “the biggest band never to sign with a record label,” and for this unassuming roots-rock trio from Massachusetts, it sure must have been validating for Dispatch to welcome thousands upon thousands of fans to a free farewell concert at Boston’s Hatch Shell.

That the band reportedly only estimated 10,000 to 30,000 people showing up — and that the number swelled to over 110,000 when all was said and done — might feel like a bit of embellishment. But there’s little question just how much Dispatch pulled off in its relatively short time as a functioning band, and that as swan songs go—a pairing of an intimate underplay at the nearby Somerville Theater, followed by a massive celebration in the heart of Boston—this was a doozy.

After the 2004 “finale,” they reunited ever-so-briefly for shows in 2007 and 2009, then returned in 2011 and have been off and on ever since, releasing new music and playing out often enough to remain a going concern.


Phish
Aug 15, 2004


“Coventry.” There are few more loaded words in Phish history, and possibly in jam-dom. At the time, Phish’s Coventry festival in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom was billed as the last shows our fearsome foursome would play.

Most of us remember “An Announcement From Trey” posted to phish.com — “For the sake of clarity, I should say that this is not like the hiatus, which was our last attempt to revitalize ourselves. We’re done. It’s been an amazing and incredible journey. We thank you all for the love and support that you’ve shown us.” And that its sense of portent seemed to hang over the entire remaining 2004 tour, right up through the last notes of “The Curtain (With)” on that weird, wobbly emotionally unbalanced, is-this-really-what-it’s-supposed-to-be? Vermont night.

Musically tepid compared to the highs Phish had scaled since returning from a hiatus in December 2002, Coventry also had plenty of pathos, not least Page McConnell getting choked up during “Wading in the Velvet Sea,” and Trey Anastasio himself talking about never getting truly nervous until that final night’s performance.

But it’s the scene surrounding the concerts themselves that cement Coventry’s place in Phish lore beyond being just an (ostensible) farewell show: the rains, the mud, the miles-long hikes from cars abandoned on interstates to catch what was supposed to be one last ride with the band that came to define the modern jam vanguard, the weird sense of non-closure that pervaded in the afterglow.

It would be four years — nearly five until the actual shows — before we finally found out that Phish agreed its business was unfinished.


Addison Groove Project
Mar 3, 2007


Boston’s Addison Groove Project was one of the great, potential-packed jam-funk bands—rising stars throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, landing bigger and more varied bills and collaborations with everyone from Trey Anastasio to Jennifer Hartswick, Soulive and Matisyahu.

Tragedy struck in 2003, when bassist John Hall was diagnosed with cancer, and, after a few select appearances with the band throughout the year that followed, he sadly passed away at the age of 25 in November 2004. AGP kept going for a few more years with an adjusted lineup, but as its shows became more sporadic, it was clear the band was ready to hang it up, and hang it up they did, with a blowout at Boston’s beloved Paradise in early 2007.

[Audio Taped Jason Adler]

Frequent guests Hartswick and AC Chillin’ were in the house, and the band jammed hard through their favorite originals and choice covers by The Police, Jimi Hendrix, Michael McDonald, Prince, Young MC and Pink Floyd that had rounded out its repertoire in those days.

AGP’s remaining members played official reunion shows in 2012 and 2013, and several continue on with other regional and national bands.


The Police
Aug 7, 2008


[Video Credit: Better Than Therapy – Tour Documentary]

We’re cheating a bit with this one considering The Police had already appeared to hang it up many years earlier, then finally reunited for a highly successful anniversary tour that stretched throughout 2007 and 2008.

For many fans, it was enough that Sting, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers were willing to play together publicly at all, given how little they’d reunited for any meaningful period in the two decades since the end of the band. But by the mid-2000s, the band members had changed their minds and proceeded to mount one of the most critically acclaimed and financially successful tours of the last 20 years, winding up with a finale blowout at Madison Square Garden in August 2008.

For that wild night, the band stuck mostly to the 18-or-so-song setlist it had been using throughout the tour, but also rotated in crowd-stoking covers of “Purple Haze” and “Sunshine of Your Love” for a little extra mustard.


The Derek Trucks Band
Dec 13, 2009


If there’s a rare downside to the roaring success of the Tedeschi Trucks Band, it’s that neither of its namesakes, with such an aggressive touring schedule, have room for their former bands. And while The Derek Trucks Band never quite made an official bow-out, their hiatus is now approaching a decade.

The final show of DTB’s 2009 tour occurred on December 13, 2009, in Albany, and the completeness of the setlist, the intensity with which the band played, and overall feeling of finality have led many a DTB fan to acknowledge The Egg as the band’s unofficial farewell concert.

DTB was a fascinating band that could hairpin-turn from jazz fusion and blues to R&B to soul, sometimes in the span of a single tune. And while it hinged on the dazzling guitar prowess of Trucks, who founded the band at age 15 (!), it also worked thanks to the finely-calibrated chemistry of its other core members, particularly the later-years lineup of Trucks, Todd Smallie, Yonrico Scott, Mike Mattison, Count M’Butu and the late Kofi Burbridge.

Mattison and Burbridge, of course, followed Trucks into the Tedeschi Trucks Band, which keeps several DTB favorites in regular rotation.


The White Stripes
Feb 20, 2009


[Video Credit: Ballad Of The Boll Weevil – July 31, 2007 – via mojomudcat]

How can a band have two final performances? Well, here’s where we get into technicality again.

The final The White Stripes concert was July 31, 2007, in Mississippi, but technically, the last time the band performed as The White Stripes was about 18 months later, as special guests on comedian and late-night host Conan O’Brien’s final turn as host of NBC’s Late Night before moving on to his ill-fated turn as host of The Tonight Show.

Jack White was moving forward with his then-new band The Dead Weather and Meg White was still dealing with anxiety issues that had short-circuited the band’s 2007 tour, but both, as the story goes, were huge Conan fans and agreed to the one-off appearance — a weird arrangement of “We’re Going To Be Friends” made that much weirder in that it featured Meg not on drums, but on guitar. At the time, Jack had been telling media outlets that new White Stripes music was on the way, but the band officially disbanded two years later, with none of it coming to light.

Conan discusses the performance in the below video:

For the full-effect The White Stripes final show — whether it was intended as such or not — you’ll have to wind back to July 2007 in Southhaven, Mississippi, where the duo did play a career-spanning set that included music from all of its albums, and also a heaping helping of tunes by Robert Johnson, Leadbelly, Son House and other blues legends in a nod to their storied surroundings.

The concert was documented as Live In Mississippi and its scorching 22-song set holds up to repeated listens — and thoughts of what might have been with the Stripes in a future era. The runout on Side C of the vinyl release is etched with the note “Meg told me before the show.” (Fun fact: Despite the run of superlative setlist selections, “Seven Nation Army,” perhaps the Stripes’ best-known song, did not make the show.)


U-Melt
Nov 26, 2010


U-Melt, short for The Unbelievable Meltdown, and at one point known as A440, was a fast-rising New York jam band that built a healthy, heady buzz in the mid- and late-2000s. They rose to regional and national acclaim remarkably fast, having played their first show together in the lot at Phish’s IT Festival in 2003, and in the ensuing years appearing on bills with Umphrey’s McGee, Tea Leaf Green and other scene staples.

After a major lineup change heading into 2010, their final show was at NYC’s Highline Ballroom over Thanksgiving weekend that same year, featuring four different support acts ahead of a two-set show that began at midnight and stretched to around 4 a.m., rolling to a close with a lengthy encore segment of favorite originals like “415,” “Perfect World” and “Tomorrow My Friend.”

Here’s a portion of the note the band shared when announcing their breakup:

Over the last seven years U- Melt has enjoyed all the unique experiences of being a touring rock band. We have criss-crossed the country, released three albums, and built a family of amazing friends and fans throughout the US. Recently we have found ourselves struggling through the economic downturn along with the rest of the country. After much discussion we have decided that it is time to close this chapter of U-Melt. Without naming everyone, we want to thank the numerous agents, promoters, managers, artists, friends, and family that made this trip possible …

As for the future, we will all be spending time exploring new sonic spaces, seeking out musical territory pushing ourselves into new directions, and as always, striving to make the best music we can possibly make. In the upcoming weeks, we will be announcing some new projects and collaborations which are sure to excite you as much as they excite us, so stay tuned… this journey is far from over. Thanks again to all of the fans who joined us for this incredible adventure, we love you all.

Although it doesn’t appear any serious reunions are on the way for U-Melt, the original band members have gotten back together on a few occasions since their 2010 dissolution, including a reunion show at Brooklyn Bowl in September 2013, and a brief performance during guitarist Rob Salzer’s Long Island wedding in October 2016 (footage from the wedding via Allison Holmes is below).


LCD Soundsystem
Apr 2, 2011


[Video Credit: new york, i love you but you’re bringing me down – live at madison square garden]

Three-and-a-half hours, 28 songs, guest appearances from the likes of Arcade Fire and others, and enough dance-punk hijinks to fill a decade, this was at the time LCD Soundsystem’s grand farewell at Madison Square Garden.

DJ and producer James Murphy’s baby was one of the defining bands of New York indie in the 2000s, and did some pretty remarkable shit in its weirdly satisfying, nine-year initial lifespan, from the endlessly catchy tunes populating decade-best albums like Sound of Silver to the still-curious “45:33,” made as a workout track for Nike.

The concert itself was lovingly captured on the documentary Shut Up And Play The Hits, and then as a live album titled The Long Goodbye. It didn’t seem like LCD Soundsystem would be gone too long, however, and sure enough, the band came back to life in 2016, playing both intimate residencies and what felt like every major festival that year.

The frequency of their shows has since dialed back again, but they supposedly remain active.


The New Deal
Jan 12, 2012


[Video Credit: Adam Firtel]

One of the vanguard livetronica bands, The New Deal (now stylized theNEWDEAL) first emerged out of Toronto in 1998, and found adoption among electronica-loving jam kids who cottoned to how they mixed that genre with breakbeat, acid jazz and other flavors to create something remarkably original. Over a decade of highs and lows, however, the trio’s mesmerizing shows became less frequent, and in April 2011, they announced an impending breakup, playing a New Year’s run in the Northeast later that year, and then a finale aboard Jam Cruise early in 2012.

The New Deal has decided that 2011 will mark the end of a spectacular 12- year career.

It has been an amazing run for the band and we appreciate the loyal and dedicated tND fanbase across North America and Asia. Our individual lives have taken very different paths with family, living abroad, and other various projects. We have come to a point where the time and commitment that it takes to maintain our band at its best is no longer possible. As a group, we’ve never been known to go halfway, so we have decided to end things with a great run of summer and fall shows that we hope to be the best yet.

Over the next several months, TND will return to the East Coast. The final Summer and Fall 2011 shows will bring us to many of our favourite places in the US and Canada, and we’re looking forward to finishing things off in a big way.

We look forward to each and every one of these very special shows. Our fans have been fantastically devoted and supportive, and we hope to give them a final run of performances that will be truly memorable.

In addition to the summer shows and festivals already announced, we expect to add a few more dates to give as many fans as possible the opportunity to see us play together one last time.

Much love,
Darren, Dan and Jamie

Recordings of the set abound, and for good reason: it’s a smoker the whole way through, incorporating favorite New Deal jammers like “Self Orbit,” “Technobeam” and “G-Nome,” and culminating in an encore of what became known as “The Final Jam,” stretching well past their scheduled end time on the boat (watch the finale in the video above).

Less than three years later, The New Deal reformed with drummer Joel Stouffer replacing Darren Shearer. The trio of Stouffer, keyboardist Jamie Shields and bassist Dan Kurtz released an album, Mercury Switch in 2016. Earlier this year, Shields and Kurtz confirmed Davide Di Renzo had replaced Stouffer and shared a 16-minute single, “Halo Dive,” featuring the new drummer.


The Black Crowes
Dec 14, 2013


[Video Credit: The Black Crowes – December 14, 2013 – via Pat Meyers]

Technically — and again, there’s almost always a “technically” when it comes to farewells — the final The Black Crowes gig to date occurred on February 14, 2014, at a corporate fundraiser for Big Brother/Big Sister in Boston. The last public ride for the band, however, occurred on December 14, 2013, in San Francisco, as they hauled up members of Tedeschi Trucks Band and The London Souls for a ripping “Lovelight” at the end of a potent setlist.

Even with a new lineup — the 2013 and 2014 tours saw Jackie Greene in the lead guitar spot, replacing Luther Dickinson from two years earlier — 2014 felt like yet another fault line in the always-shaky Crowes foundation, and it was little surprise when, a year later in January 2015, official word came via a statement from Rich Robinson that The Crowes had officially disbanded. His statement read:

It is with great disappointment and regret that after having the privilege of writing and performing the music of The Black Crowes over the last 24 years, I find myself in the position of saying that the band has broken up.

I hold my time with The Black Crowes with the utmost respect and sincerest appreciation. It is a huge swath of my life’s body of work. I couldn’t be more proud of what we accomplished and deeply moved by the relationships people created and maintained with my music. That alone is the greatest honor of being a musician. I love my brother and respect his talent but his present demand that I must give up my equal share of the band and that our drummer for 28 years and original partner, Steve Gorman, relinquish 100% of his share, reducing him to a salaried employee, is not something I could agree to.

There are so many people who have helped and supported us along the way. I want to give a heartfelt thank you to all of our fans, our friends behind the scenes, and to everyone who was a part of The Black Crowes.

Farewells never seem permanent for The Crowes, but in the five years since playing their last show together, the Brothers Robinson have been plenty prickly toward one another in the press, and there’s little actionable evidence that the band might actually return to fly again. Drummer Steve Gorman — currently with the re-activated Trigger Hippy — shares in his forthcoming book that The Black Crowes were supposed to do a full-blown 25th anniversary tour in 2015, but that the idea collapsed and that plans to do a commemorative documentary were also scuttled.

So what are we left with? (For now?) The memories of at an-times-excellent 2013 tour that hinted at the legendary live band The Black Crowes once were — and a host of interesting bands in the wake of the Crowes, from Trigger Hippy and Rich’s The Magpie Salute to Chris Robinson’s myriad projects.


Furthur
Jan 23, 2014


After unexpectedly forming in 2009, Furthur was one of the most buzzed-about post-Grateful Dead bands in ages, combining Phil Lesh and Bob Weir with John Kadlecik — at that time part of Dark Star Orchestra — and some extended family members that included RatDog alumni Jeff Chimenti and (briefly) Jay Lane, along with drummer Joe Russo and, at various points, backup singers Zoe Ellis, Jeff Pehrson and/or Sunshine Becker.

The group found its footing almost right away and built momentum, playing adventurous shows and even throwing its own festivals, all while other post-Dead ventures such as Terrapin Crossroads and Weir’s TRI Studios began to take shape as well. The vibes were good throughout Furthur’s five years, but also unsteady, and it seemed like things could turn dark at any moment, especially in the last two years amid a lot of behind-the-scenes drama.

In late-2013 came word that Furthur would begin a hiatus in early-2014 following their four-night destination event in Mexico, Paradise Waits. After an uneven run of shows, the band infamously played Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Getting Back Together” as not-so-subtle exit music.

[Audio taped by Jon Pasternak]

“The end of Furthur came as no surprise to the members,” wrote Joel Selvin in his 2018 book Fare Thee Well: The Final Chapter of the Grateful Dead’s Strange Trip. “When the band first formed, they had been told it might last a couple of years. That last year, the strain had been showing, although the other musicians were largely unaware of the trauma behind the scenes.”

Later in 2014 — amid a swell of rumors about a full-blown Grateful Dead reunion that would turn out to be Fare Thee Well — Furthur officially called it quits, with a post that read, “We’ll all be keeping very busy over the foreseeable future, and it’s time to let Furthur take a bow. We enjoyed the ride more than we can possibly express.”


The Allman Brothers Band
Oct 28, 2014


[Video Credit: stevemeister74]

Everything seemed to be on the table, from a monster farewell tour, to a blowout at Madison Square Garden, to a free show somewhere in the south, to a reunion with estranged brother Dickey Betts. But in the end, the latter-day (and longest-running) lineup of The Allman Brothers Band decided to hang things up simply and succinctly, with a run of rescheduled, out-of-season shows at its second home, New York City’s Beacon Theatre, that included no guests and only modest fanfare.

A workmanlike start to the final Beacon run of six shows in October 2014 left fans wondering if the band would go out with a whimper instead of a bang, but about two shows in, the old magic started firing once more, and this mighty lineup — the guitar tandem of Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks at the heart of one of the jam scene’s greatest-ever ensembles — played with the ferocity, vigor and adventurousness of its best years.

“Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” played or at least teased or lightly jammed on at every one of the six shows, was the theme of the Allman Brothers finale — fitting for a band that had rescued itself so many times from doom but also had some pyrrhic victories along the way.

On the final night, October 28, the band uncorked all the good stuff, playing a healthy, heavy mix of warhorses and latter-day tunes that captured their sound best. The final encore, “Trouble No More” (seen above) chosen because it was the first song the first-formed Allmans band had played together in 1969, was on-point; nothing more was required.

That we’ve since lost both Gregg Allman and Butch Trucks in the years hence means a true reunion is forever off the table. And for those of us in the New York City area who came to set our watches to the spring traditions at the Beacon, well, March still feels a little empty …


Fare Thee Well
Jul 5, 2015


[Video Credit: Attics Of My Life – July 5, 2015 – via sgibson818]

It took someone with the all-out chutzpah of impresario Peter Shapiro to pull off, but he and his team did what was once unthinkable in light of so many politics in the post-Garcia years of the Grateful Dead. He reunited the surviving “core four” Dead musicians with a band of ringers — Bruce Hornsby, Trey Anastasio and Jeff Chimenti — to play five final shows in honor of the Dead’s 50th anniversary, bringing some much-needed closure to the Dead scene as a whole, and finally setting Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann off into the next chapter.

For a moment, everyone seemed to forget the infighting, the musical opportunities lost, the weirdly-vibed bullshit that had overshadowed a lot of post-Jerry music in the 20 years since his death. Originally announced as three shows on July 3, 4 and 5 at Soldier Field in Chicago – the site the Grateful Dead played their final two shows on July 8 and 9, 1995 — a pair of concerts on June 27 and 28 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California near the band’s Bay Area roots were later added.

As Selvin wrote in his aforementioned soapy, but well-reported Fare Thee Well:

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the shows in Chicago was that the “seventh member” showed up. In the early days of the Grateful Dead, the band would speak of that intangible extra ingredient that made a show great as the “seventh member.” Sometimes he would be there at the beginning of a show and leave. Sometimes he would show up in the middle and stay. Sometimes he wouldn’t come. He could not be depended on in any way, but when he was there, the gigs were great. The seventh member always brought the party.

Lesh continues to perform with his varied Phil Lesh & Friends lineups and with The Terrapin Family Band. Shortly after Fare Thee Well, Hart, Kreutzmann, Weir and Chimenti went on to form Dead & Company with John Mayer and Oteil Burbridge. Weir and Lesh toured as a duo in Spring 2018, but the “core four” have not performed together since the final night at Soldier Field when Hart left the audience with the simple message of “Be Kind.”


The Tragically Hip
Aug 20, 2016


[Video Credit: Ahead By A Century – August 20, 2016 – via KINGSTON 360 DOTCOM]

If there’s a modern-day bar-setter for everything a farewell concert should be, you could point to The Tragically Hip, which sent its band and its late frontman, Gord Downie, out with a celebration befitting of their status as Canadian legends.

Downie, who sadly was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in 2015, joined his mates for a cross-Canadian tour in 2016 that ended August 20, 2016, with a concert in Kingston, Ontario, that was broadcast globally and cross-platform to radio, TV and Internet sites, and included in attendance Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Beloved by their native Canada, The Hip that day felt like a truly global band, and received accolades aplenty from fans and news outlets all over, going deep with a 30-song, three-encore setlist that culminated with “Ahead by a Century,” one of their most treasured songs.

Downie died on October 17, 2017, and in 2018, his surviving band mates announced that The Tragically Hip name was officially retired.


Black Sabbath
Feb 4, 2017


[Video Credit: Paranoid – February 4, 2017]

The road goes on — at least into 2020 — for Ozzy Osbourne, but Black Sabbath’s 40+ year journey ended in legendary band’s hometown of Birmingham, United Kingdom, in February 2017. The farewell tour for the influential rockers and metal pioneers began in early-2016, and aboard with Ozzy were Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler, along with late-era Sabbath drummer Tommy Clufetos and regular Ozzy sideman Adam Wakeman. Drummer Bill Ward — still at odds with Osbourne — did not participate.

The final show in Birmingham was live streamed and ended, after a typically storming setlist, with Ozzy saying a simple “Thank you, goodnight, thank you so much.”

Black Sabbath is another classic-era band with incalculable influence on the modern jam band landscape, and not just in that their iconic songs are regularly covered, though from Gov’t Mule and Umphrey’s McGee to Widespread Panic and Lotus, it’s clear there’s a deep wellspring of Sabbath appreciation in our scene.


Col. Bruce Hampton
Mar 1, 2017


Surrounded by so many of his adoring fans and being actively feted by musicians he personally mentored over decades in the musical trenches, Col. Bruce Hampton — jam band god and something like John Wooden, Gandalf and Studs Terkel all rolled into one — checked out during his own 70th birthday party in Atlanta, in perhaps the most extraordinary farewell show our scene has ever known.

Among the all-star roster that assembled at the Fox Theatre were John Bell, Dave Schools, Derek Trucks, Duane Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Jimmy Herring, Peter Buck, Darick Campbell, Karl Denson, Drew Emmitt, Vince Herman, Jon Fishman, Rev. Jeff Mosier, Warren Haynes, Chuck Leavell, T. Hardy Morris, John Popper, Matt Slocum, Oliver Wood and several others.

It’s part of what’s endlessly fascinating about the Colonel’s legacy that we can marvel at the cosmic rightness of all of it while at the same time acknowledging that Hampton’s exit — passing out during an all-star jam right near the end of the show, having signaled to the stage’s youngest occupant, guitar wunderkind Brandon “Taz” Niederauer, to let loose — brought a celebratory evening to a tragic close. It was of course in no way intended as a farewell concert.

But that’s Bruce for you.

“I think it’s the most brilliant way to leave this world, if you’re a musician,” Blues Traveler’s John Popper, one of Hampton’s many mentees, told JamBase in 2017. “Throw your own 70th birthday party and stay there forever, in a way. I mean, who hosts his own wake? He also prophesied he would, and that’s kind of amazing, but that’s also in keeping with the Colonel.”


John Mclaughlin
Dec 9, 2017


Video Credit: Echos From Then – December 9, 2017 – via Cal Vid]

A guitar sorcerer of the first rank, John McLaughlin’s influence on the more fusion-inclined stalwarts of the jam scene can’t be overstated. McLaughlin, beloved for Mahavishnu Orchestra, Miles Davis, and many other associations during a long and varied career, announced an ambitious, 25-date tour more than a year in advance that he noted would be his last in the U.S. (his farewell tours overseas have continued after).

Along for the ride was his 4th Dimension band, and also Jimmy Herring and The Invisible Whip. Herring, one of McLaughlin’s many acolytes, played a set with the Whip at most of these shows, yielded the stage to the 4th Dimension, and then both bands would combine for a dazzling, Mahavishnu-focused set that proved a master class in fusion-soaked adventure.

The tour was dubbed “Meeting Of The Spirits,” and concluded in grand fashion at UCLA’s Royce Hall in Los Angeles. Leading up to it, luminaries aplenty, from Carlos Santana and Phil Lesh to Derek Trucks and Steve Lukather, were in attendance or even got called up to jam.

The always-invigorating Herring seemed to spend the tour with a perma-grin plastered to his face — and why wouldn’t he? — but ultimately no one seemed to be having more fun than McLaughlin himself. His playing from throughout this tour is swift and soulful, actively deciding that merely delivering the compositions wouldn’t have been enough.


Paul Simon
Sep 22, 2018


Video Credit: The Sound Of Silence – September 22, 2018 – via hellspawn3000]

When the first dates of Paul Simon’s Homeward Bound – The Farewell Tour tour were announced in early 2018, one key location was curiously missing: New York City. But even with an aggressive schedule spanning North America and Europe, fans didn’t believe for a second the American singer-songwriter legend would skip out on a chance to play his home court once more, and sure enough, the final concert was fittingly announced for Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens.

As many reviewers noted at the time, Simon went for a career-spanning hit parade, though with a catalog as vast and deep as Simon’s, even the predictability yielded to a few tender moments, gracefully nostalgic touches, and shout-outs to New York, which got a roar from the rapt crowd every time. He deftly commanded a 14-piece band, but at the end of a 26-song show, delivered “American Tune” and “The Sound of Silence” (seen above) solo, at ease with his legacy and its weight.

There was an important distinction in Simon’s farewell announcement, in that it was a farewell to touring, not performing live altogether. He played San Francisco’s Outside Lands festival in August 2019, for example, with a well-regarded Bob Weir guest spot, and may yet grace a concert stage again soon.


Shpongle
May 4, 2019


No one quite knew what to make of Simon Posford and Raja Ram’s project when it formed in the U.K. in 1996 as a delectably wild mix of psychedelic and electronic music. Once Shpongle began to host live concerts in 2001, however, they earned a reputation as capital-E Events, happening just often enough to establish them as a live band, but also make Shpongle shows feel like special occasions.

By 2010, they had played only 10 live performances total, largely in Europe, Japan and Australia, and word spread about the so-called “Shpongletron,” a multi-sensory environment that included a DJ booth and a passel of custom-made projection surfaces delivering psych-heavy audio and video. Finally, in 2011, Shpongle made their U.S. debut as a full live ensemble, performing at Camp Bisco X, and then in New York and in Oakland, preceding a multi-city U.S. tour in 2012 featuring largely DJ sets called “Shpongle presents The Masquerade.”

The more they’ve played — including at Red Rocks — the more they’ve also incorporated new voices and instrumentation, including jam scene drummer Joe Russo, who was part of Shpongle’s live band on several occasions.

Shpongle in late 2018 announced that May 2019 at Red Rocks would be their final live shows. Russo was among those aboard for the thrilling finales—everything fans could want as far as Shpongle’s “psybient” chops in a world-class location. Shpongle will continue to release new music, they’ve said, but it appears Shpongle concerts are now a thing of the past.