GREEN APPLE MUSIC FEST: 4/20-4/22
Day 1 – 7:30 P.M.
Day 2 – 12:00 P.M.
Friday, outside of New York’s Grand Central Terminal, things started at high noon, with a performance on Vanderbilt Avenue by the Paul Green School of Rock All Stars with Jon Anderson (Yes). Like the popular Jack Black film, students accompanied Anderson through an extremely impressive set of Yes’ covers, peaking with a rousing “Roundabout.” Heck, even the unseasonably cold weather decided to cooperate with a lovely 70-degree day.
Day 2 – 1:15 P.M.
Next up was Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams. These guys were part wizards, part Bob Dylan and part plain old New York freaks. They delivered a performance that featured Dylan’s “Gates of Eden” and nods to The Who.
Day 2 – 4:30 P.M.
Day 2 – 5:45 P.M.
My highlight of the day’s activities came when Ozomatli busted into their Los Angeles flavored funk and ska. Just the right amount of horns, tequila and infectious rhythm spilled off the stage, inspiring an impromptu conga line through the crowded streets, a quasi-tradition that started in the very same spot last year. Shapiro commented that with the sound echoing off the buildings, Beer Bar overflowing, and the crowd at the foot of the stage stretching backwards, it all had a mountain-like feel right in the middle of the city.
Day 2 – 8:30 P.M.
Day 3 – 12:00 P.M.
Zero played the first set outside Grand Central on Saturday, where highlights included “Catalina,” “Chance in a Million” and a rare Melvin Seals vocals on “Me and the Devil.” Again invoking the power of the Grateful Dead, an encore rendition of “Franklin’s Tower” literally saw the sun turn the corner to join the crowd for one final dance before the Heroes of Zero returned home to the West Coast.
Day 3 – 3:00 P.M.
Day 3 – 10:00 P.M.
Saturday night saw a double dose of Vermont quartets. Well, sort of. Touchpants, featuring Jon Fishman (Phish, Pork Tornado) opened for RAQ at the Bowery Ballroom. Touchpants was sort of comic relief but had degrading songs about women that didn’t sit well. However, their onstage shot-downing antics had the place loaded by the end of their set.
The part of RAQ’s set that I caught reminded me just how tight these guys are. Guitarist Chris Michetti was extremely impressive. Some of his solos were so blistering they could cause some serious brain aneurisms.
A quick cab ride to B.B. King Blues Club in Times Square got me there just in time for Phix‘s last New York City show before their impending breakup. They opened with “Buried Alive” > “Tube” and “Slave to the Traffic Light.” They may be a Phish cover band, but they don’t take themselves too seriously. Their music is spot on, which allowed for a very enjoyable time culminating in an extremely funky “Wolfman’s Brother” and a peaking “Divided Sky.” A familiar encore of “Loving Cup” sent us spilling out onto the New York City streets after 3 a.m., still riding high, remembering “What a beautiful buzz” the magical music of Phish can be.
Day 4 – 9:00 P.M.
After the free children’s festivities in Central Park, by The Laurie Berkner Band it was time to put the kids to bed and make my way downtown to the Fat Mama reunion at the Knitting Factory. Anchored by Joe Russo on drums, these guys obviously enjoyed themselves, and their playing was extremely loose. A jazzy, slightly electronic horn extravaganza is the only way to describe Fat Mama, who was once a Wetlands regular. Overall, a successful reunion, and a fitting wrap up to the weekend.
Continue reading for Chicago’s Green Apple celebration…
Chicago’s part of the second annual Green Apple Music Festival and Earth Day celebration was filled with numerous performances throughout the city by artists from many genres over the span of four days.
Kicking off the extended weekend at the House of Blues was Backyard Tire Fire, New Monsoon and headliner JJ Grey & MOFRO. The night was packed with head-bobbing drinking songs, neo-psychedelic improvisation, and dirty “Country Ghetto” anthems.
The powerful trio Backyard Tire Fire opened with a short, intense set. Having seen them the previous week at the Wanee Festival, I was surprised by how much better they sounded within the confines of a club. They plowed through their set, and even welcomed out MOFRO’s saxophonist for a slow, funky “If It Makes You Feel Good Its Alright.” The other highlight was the humorous “How In Hell Did You Get Back Here,” which mashed together country lyrics with punk attitude.
04.22 :: SF by Flanigan
Beneath pictures of two curling snakes and the phrase “County Ghetto” draped across a pair of gigantic banners, singer/guitarist/organist JJ Grey and his band MOFRO strutted confidently onto the stage just after 11:30 p.m. The Florida born bandleader admitted to the swelling crowd how much fun he’s had on the current tour, and how he’d been looking forward to this particular night. After his first sip (of many) from what appeared to be a glass of whiskey, Grey turned up his snazzy looking Gibson SG and unleashed an onslaught of raw, emotive guitar-driven rock songs. The self-confidence exuded by Grey was borderline cocky but provided an edgy chip-on-the-shoulder feel to the music. “Dirtfloorcracker” was a perfect example – gritty funk undertones complemented Grey’s raspy full vocals, slick guitar solo and a mid-section jam that included the children’s song “Jimmy Crack Corn.” Other highlights included a slow, foot-stomping “Country Ghetto” and an impressive “Cool Jerk” jam that focused on individual solos.
All three of these groups played solid sets, and helped draw attention to a worthy cause.
Continue reading for San Francisco’s Green Apple celebration…
By: Nick Boeka
The citywide festival was a great success and offered performances from many premiere acts including Willie Nelson, Railroad Earth, Tea Leaf Green, Yonder Mountain String Band, and The Greyboy Allstars, who closed out the San Francisco portion of Green Apple with a Sunday night performance at The Independent. In true festival fashion there were many collaborations over the weekend. Sit-ins were reported at nearly every event, unique bands created from the talent around town.
4.20 by Flanigan
Returning to the 12 Galaxies, Falcor and Friends presented the funkiest band from across the pond, The New Mastersounds, and the powerful Big Organ Trio for a Hammond filled night. Both very impressive bands in their own right, but together the vintage intensity shook bodies into motion.
Jonah Smith started his set to a growing crowd before noon. The New York City based singer/songwriter has been on tour supporting Martin Sexton, who also performed at the SF event. Smith has a unique approach, performing in front of his piano or switching to guitar after he’s started a loop. His short set was a perfect start to this day in the park.
Martin Sexton was next, and the Massachusetts guitarist/songwriter had a stage presence as big as his voice. Two songs in, “Candy” provided great lyrics and a vocal solo that emulated a lead guitar. Midway through the set, the band circled around two microphones for a stripped-down jug band feel, offering great renditions of Johnny Cash’s classic “Folsom Prison Blues” and Billy Preston’s “Will It Go Round in Circles” that made the crowd sing.
As the afternoon drew on, the stage was cleared to make room for the nine-piece Stephen Marley Band, who caused the field to suddenly swarm with folks eager for the sounds of Jamaica. The festival was quickly transformed into a scene from Burnin & Lootin. Looking around, it was inspiring to see an event bring together such a diverse group of people. Midway through the set, Marley was joined by Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley who played MC for the rest of the set, which included a medley that included “Could You Be Loved.” Stephen Marley performed again later that evening at the Fillmore.
This extremely successful debut weekend for the Green Apple Festival in San Francisco prompted a lot of positive comments from attendees at various events around the city.
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