My Morning Jacket
12.31.06 :: Fillmore Auditorium :: San Francisco, CA

Words by: Kayceman :: Images by Dave Vann

MMJ :: 12.31.06 :: San Francisco
New Year’s Eve is a time for reflection and celebration. We look back over what was accomplished, where we fell short, and we set our sights on dreams to come. That and we party our asses off!

With this in mind, there may be no better band to spend NYE with than My Morning Jacket. The music of Jim James and company is full of thought-provoking, introspective lyrics backed by crunching guitars and soaring rock bombast. 2006 was a massive year for MMJ, culminating in one of the best shows of the year at San Francisco’s Fillmore.

Jim James – MMJ :: 12.31.06 :: San Francisco
Decking out the entire venue in a “Donner Party meets Little House On The Prairie” theme, it was clear from the moment you walked up the Fillmore’s famous stairs that something special was in the air. With a pre-recorded “Oregon Trail” intro playing over the speakers, the band took the stage dressed in cowboy gear, coonskin caps, Indian Headdresses, and brandishing guns as they gathered around a campfire and eventually killed bassist Two-Tone Tommy, eating him like the Donner Family did way back in 1847. Tommy returned in a pristine white suit, descending from the stairs backstage where the words HEAVEN were painted. As things were getting even weirder, snow began to fall as the band erupted into “One Big Holiday” and the capacity crowd went crazy.

MMJ :: 12.31.06 :: San Francisco
The first half of the show featured MMJ classics like “Gideon,” “Low Down,” a drugged-out “Off The Record,” “It Beats For You,” a disturbing “Dondante,” a space-age, keyboard-heavy “Run Thru,” and a stoney rendition of “They Ran,” all played with critical intensity. The band took a very brief break a few minutes before midnight to get champagne and prepare for the countdown. As we all dipped into 2007, Martha and the Vandellas’ “Heat Wave” came over the speakers as balloons and MMJ money fell from the sky. Glasses were raised, hugs exchanged, and euphoria spread throughout The Fillmore.

At this point it was your typical NYE midnight madness sensory overload. Then Jim started singing Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration.” From “Celebration” they went into Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long,” featuring the horns of Elvis Perkins in Dearland (who had opened for MMJ on 12/30). My Morning Jacket somehow turned the wedding/Bar Mitzvah classic into a soulful party. Drifting from “All Night Long” to Wham!’s “Careless Whisper” and Prince’s “I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man” is risky, but MMJ is not your ordinary band. They played these tracks MMJ-style, and like everything they do, it rawked!

Two-Tone Tommy on “Highway To Hell” :: 12.31.06
Timing is everything in life, and just as the covers started to wane the Jacket dropped the rare “Cobra” off the Chocolate and Ice EP. Tripped-out like some super-high Scandinavian DJ, the ten-minute “Cobra” featured a metal-onslaught middle section that built up to a stunning, dubbed-out version of “Phone Went West” that just about ripped the heart out of the audience.

The show was already at epic proportions as the band plunged into “Honest Man,” a haunting “Bear,” 11-minutes of “Steam Engine,” and a psychedelic “Wordless Chorus.” We had seen enough, My Morning Jacket had won, but they were not done. “Easy Morning Rebel” and “Dancefloors” gave way to Two-Tone Tommy singing a stellar version of “Highway To Hell” and eventually a massive “Mahgeeta” to bring the crowd to their knees. After almost three and half hours of dark, dirty, triumphant rock, Tommy ended the night with a bang. Pulling out his shotgun, Tommy paid his bandmates back for eating him earlier in the night. With the band lying dead on the stage, Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven” began to play and My Morning Jacket ascended to HEAVEN.

Two-Tone Tommy :: 12.31.06
The band was clearly just putting the finishing touches on their theater piece by playing Zep to end the night, but in retrospect, there was more to it. We all sit around and talk about who the next Zeppelin will be. Of course no one can see the future, no one knows who will conquer the masses without pandering or “selling out,” creating a catalogue of necessary music that will forever stand the test of time. But, if I had to put my money on someone, it would be My Morning Jacket.

It’s not that My Morning Jacket sound or play like Zeppelin, it’s the importance of their music and the potential for greatness that is comparable. MMJ make us believe again. Standing at The Fillmore, retracing the struggles and hurts of 2006, Jim James was able to convince the crowd that it is possible. Whatever it is depends on the individual; but My Morning Jacket reminds us that we can do it. Lots of bands write great songs and can rock the house, but MMJ fill the air with possibilities, dreams, and a hope that tomorrow may be better than today. There is currently no more important rock band on the planet than the Jacket, perhaps 2007 is the year the world finds out.

JamBase | San Francisco
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12.31.06 :: Radio City Music Hall :: New York, NY

Images by: Robert Chapman & Regan Teti

moe. :: 12.31.06 :: Radio City Music Hall :: New York, NY
Set I: Godzilla, Moth, Blue Jeans Pizza, Spine of a Dog > Lazarus
Set II: Bullet > The Pit, She Sends Me, Nebraska, Time Ed* > Wind It Up
Set III: Not Coming Down > Wormwood > [Happy New Year] > New York City, Buster, Kids, Sensory Deprivation Bank > Recreational Chemistry
E: Letter Home, McBain > Down Boy
* “Time Ed” was unfinished

The String Cheese Incident
12.31.06 :: Concourse Exhibition Center :: San Francisco, CA

Words by: Tyler Hammer

Bill Nershi :: 12.31.06 by Josh Miller
New Years Eve is like no other time. Past, present and future coalesce in our consciousness more so than any other point in the year. We look back on the previous year and contemplate the choices we made. We surround ourselves with our loved ones to live in the moment. And, we make resolutions for our next yearlong ride around the sun.

This year’s Sea of Dreams Festival, held annually in San Francisco, was a perfect atmosphere for this kind of reflection. Not only did this event allow attendees to indulge in a delicious array of art and music, but it also provided an opportunity for many to reflect upon and enjoy one last New Year’s Eve with the original members of String Cheese Incident – who recently announced the upcoming departure of guitarist-vocalist Bill Nershi.

The range and scale of this year’s bash was impressive. This indoor festival ran an entire city block, including three unique stages and 27 varied, talented entertainers including ALO, Mark Farina, Pnuma Trio, Indigo Belly Dance, and Goddess Alchemy Project. For a reprieve from the music, one could immerse and entice their minds with a potpourri of other novelties scattered throughout the venue including art exhibits, sculptures, theater, ceremony and circus acts. This celebration was a feast for the senses and I gobbled up every last morsel I could.

Nershi & Kang – SCI :: 12.31.06 by Jay Blakesberg
For the second straight year, the folks from Madison House and Peak Experience teamed up with Anon Salon (creators of the Burning Man Decompression and Sea of Dreams) to turn San Francisco’s Concourse Exhibition Center into a “Transdimensonal Temple of Art and Dance”. In typical Anon Salon/Peak Experience fashion, the show was designed to encourage maximum fan participation – to offer art and magic both on stage and off.

Before the festivities I had a chance to pitch some questions to the man behind the scenes for this epic costumed circus – Peak Experience’s brainchild Johnny Dwork. With this being the 7th annual New Year’s Eve event and a much publicized 7 Heavens theme, I asked Johnny if things really were to be as fortuitous as this cosmic order of themes suggested. “We designed this event around a theme that will allow attendees to take a brief respite from our recent earthbound concerns,” said Dwork. “We are inviting our audience to attend as intergalactic ambassadors of goodwill with the hope that by the time midnight on December 31st rolls around we will be co-creating a groove of such delicious proportions that beings from across the Universe will want to join us in celebration.”

Michael Kang :: 12.31.06 by Josh Miller
In true San Francisco fashion, I saw some of the most outrageous, colorful, decadent and over-the-top outfits the inhabitants of this little blue planet have to offer. With a cornucopia of sights and sounds like this, it was impossible to see everything. However, Bill Nershi’s last New Year’s set was not to be missed. As 2006 saw its final minutes counting down, the party focused on the main stage where SCI opened their second set with “Miss Brown’s Teahouse” and then got feet moving with a tribute to the late James Brown in “Get On Up.” SCI then teased a nice, spacey “Star Trek” theme as they readied to beam everyone into 2007. When the clock struck 12, SCI broke into their traditional “Rollover,” unleashing a sea of positive vibrations. The ensuing platter of eye candy appeased even the strongest sweet tooth as a vibrant procession of snakes, stars, African masks, geometric balloons, stilt-walkers, and circus artists weaved their way across the floor to the delight of a frenzied crowd.

I could tell that Cheese really had the place heated up when during “Rain” the sweat-soaked ceiling began to drip on our shoulders. Things eventually settled down a bit as they closed their set with a mix of the old and new including, “Farther,” “It Is What It Is” and “Black Clouds.” While at times a bit sloppy, and not their best performance, the emotions of the evening trumped it all to make for an enjoyable set.

SCI :: 12.31.06 by Jay Blakesberg
When the “Joyful Sound” of SCI’s encore filled the air, a pensive, nostalgic feeling permeated the crowd. SCI ended their New Year’s Incident with “Birdland” > “Wheel House” > “Birdland” > “Rollover Reprise.” As the final notes ended and Billy, Kang, Travis, Kyle, Keith and Jason walked off stage, I couldn’t help but feel a bit sad. I posed the topic of Nershi’s departure to Johnny Dwork. As someone who has worked closely with SCI and whose production company has become almost synonymous with their most epic Incidents, Johnny had this to say, “We invite this community to embrace the perspective that change opens the way for healthy evolution. Look what happened when the Grateful Dead ended. We all mourned the demise of that scene. But, low and behold, many of us transposed the same type of magic we made with the Dead onto this new scene. And wow, the magic we made together at Incidents was often a vast refinement on the oftentimes ragged beauty we manifested with Garcia and Crew.”

True to Johnny’s words, earlier in the evening my sense of loss was tempered as I experienced a scene that would prove to be the highlight of my night. The Sea of Dreams culture prides itself on its ability to bring together people of different tribes. “Just like at the Burning Man Festival,” said Johnny Dwork of Peak, “many of our participants thrive on cross-pollination of ideas and interfacing beyond one’s normal boundaries.” No other band performing on NYE embodied this sentiment more than Afropop sensation Zap Mama.

SCI :: 12.31.06 by Jay Blakesberg
Headed up by Marie Daulne, who hails from Zaire, Africa, Zap Mama seamlessly melds African Pygmy music with West African, a cappella, hip-hop, R&B, funk, Cuban and gospel music. Spirits soared with the calypso undertones and sultry harmonizing that are the hallmark of the band. The infectious energy of Marie and her lively entourage of four backup divas sprinkled a heavy does of joie de vivre – a hearty and carefree enjoyment of life – on everyone in attendance. Other highlights of the set included a truly uplifting “African Sunset,” “Rafiki,” and “Yelling Away.”

The African hospitality of Zap Mama’s music is a warm, inviting breathe of fresh air. It incites the newcomer, instantly making them feel at home among new and exotic sights and sounds. The feel good groove of Zap Mama and the seductive, smoky voice of Marie Daulne holds huge crowd appeal and I look forward to many more of their shows.

Bassnectar :: 12.31.06 by Josh Miller
Of-course the festivities didn’t stop with SCI and Zap Mama. For many, they were just the warm-up to a late night freak fest engineered by breakbeat kingpins DJ Tipper and Lorin Bassnectar. Warming up the turntables at 2:00 a.m., Bassnectar, who “generates amorphous music with conscious intention,” assaulted the crowd with his seasoned mix of snarling basslines, abrasive breakbeats, and warped, alien-abducted atmospheres. Sampling everything from the Beastie Boys to Manu Chao and even a 20’s era swing-dance throw-down, Bassnectar turned on the hyper drive and took the party into 2007 at warp speed.

For the past two years, this Sea of Dreams Festival is truly unique in its ability to mesh both the Burning Man and jamband worlds. Both communities have an affinity for diversity, music, art in whatever form it takes, and, of course great love for good times. As Johnny Dwork rightly put it, “Perhaps the coolest concept that we can take away from these experiences is there is room for everyone to shine.”

SCI :: 12.31.06 :: Concourse Exhibition Center San Francisco, CA
Set I: Can’t Stop Now, These Waves, BAM! > Rockit > BAM!, Pretty Polly, Rhum ‘n’ Zouc, Close Your Eyes > Rocket Man > Close Your Eyes, Desert Dawn
Set II: Miss Brown’s Teahouse > Get On Up > Miss Brown’s Teahouse > Star Trek Theme > Jam > Star Trek Theme¹ > Rollover > Ziggy Stardust, Rain, Farther, Dub Jam > It Is What It Is, Bumpin’ Reel, Black Clouds
E: Joyful Sound, Birdland > Wheel Hoss > Birdland > Rollover

1 with NYE countdown

Widespread Panic
12.31.06 :: Philips Arena :: Atlanta, GA

Images by: Aaron Williams

Widespread Panic :: 12.31.06 :: Philips Arena :: Atlanta, GA
Set I: From The Cradle, Who Do You Belong To?, Wondering, Wish You Were Here, Driving Song, Expiration Day, Down, Ribs And Whiskey
Set II: Bowlegged Woman > Surprise Valley > Goodpeople > Imitation Leather Shoes, Airplane > Second Skin, Let’s Get Down To Business
Set III: I Can’t Stop Loving You*, Love Tractor > Pigeons > You Should Be Glad, Barstools and Dreamers > Fixin’ To Die* > Chilly Water > Action Man
E: May Your Glass Be Filled, Last Dance, Ain’t Life Grand
* with Col. Bruce Hampton on vocals
[Only ‘I Can’t Stop Loving You’]

The Slip
12.31.06 :: Northsix :: Brooklyn, NY

Words by: SuperDee :: Images by: Phrazz

Brad Barr of The Slip
Watching a band you love change before your very eyes is an intoxicating experience. When this band somehow gracefully blends what you’ve always loved about them with something completely new, it’s magical. The Slip is a band that can simultaneously shirk off and coddle their long-time fans and everyone comes away unscathed. On one hand, they are totally unrecognizable – playing their New Year’s show in the hipsterville of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, rocking faces – and on the other hand, they are still giving you everything you want. Is there really any other option than to open the show with “Children of December”? And in these last moments of December, and of the year 2006, what is more perfect than to hear the words “it’s the day before the rest of your life”?

Midnight with Meowskers
Midnight came with rhythm and gold balloons dropping from the sky and a wink to Mr. Davis. The Slip began their SMMD mainstay of “I Want to Get to Heaven Before I Die,” perhaps trying to conjure up Nathan Moore from wherever he may have been at that moment. Opening act, and good friends of The Slip family, Meowskers came to join the trio for this heavenly chant which led into “Hear Me Out,” a gospel sing-along from their world. After we were safely transported into 2007, The Slip granted a strong request and performed the second half of “Eube,” a gem from their first album, From the Gecko, ten years ago. Was it meant to be an acceptance of their past or a swan-song of that era? And as if they were hammering in the last nail of the coffin, here came the “Weight of Solomon,” another song from Gecko, but completely different. Instead of the sweet and soothing “Solomon” with Brad at the piano, we got guitars and beats. I’m calling it the “Rock Solomon” and it’s a sign of where The Slip is today. We are rock, hear us roar.

Brad Barr Goes Surfing
The rest of the show was a blur of good times… They showcased some new post-Eisenhower songs like “Wine and White Soda” and “All I Saw Was You.” They made us melt with the brilliance of “Soft Machine” and “Paperbirds” which included some instrumental quotes from Pat Benatar’s “Love is a Battlefield.” More Davis love came with the ironically romantic “I Hate Love” as we swayed and swooned. The OMG moment came as they sandwiched “Poor Boy” in their AC/DC cover of “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If you Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll).” They finished the night with another cover, Elvis Costello’s “What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace Love and Understanding,” that The Slip has made their own in the past few years.

The Slip
All in all, this intimate show at Northsix was an enchanting way to bring in the new year. As Brad Barr sang Bowie’s “Changes” in the second set, I realized that yes indeed, us rock’n’rollers are gonna get a little older. We can either roll with it or fight it every step of the way, yearning for the past. The latter is impossible and pointless and so we must surrender to the flow and rejoice in our evolution. And The Slip continues to be a strange fascination always fascinating me. Thanks to them for that.

I can’t leave without commenting on the raucous opening set by Meowskers. Matt Rudnicki (vocals, piano), Mike Cheever (bass) and Jeff Neuberger (drums) deliver incredibly original material with such fierceness! It’s quite tasty. They are Brooklyn boys and so hopefully this is the first of many body rockings we’ll have together this year.

2007, you’re lookin’ pretty good so far! Happy New Year, everyone.

The View of Manhattan from Williamsburg, Brooklyn

JamBase | Brooklyn
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Umphrey’s McGee
12.31.06 :: Aragon Ballroom :: Chicago, IL

Words by: Pietro Truba :: Images by: Brett Saul

Cinninger & Stasik :: 12.31.06 :: Chicago
Umphrey’s McGee was back in Chicago for their sixth straight New Year’s Eve in the windy city. With a three-night run and the help of the North Mississippi All-Stars, Los Lobos, Taj Mahal, and a new, tricked out lighting rig, Umphrey’s rang in the New Year in style.

As Umphrey’s strolled out for their first set, drummer Kris Myers stood perched over his kit, stirring the sea of people that stood in front of him. The first set ran with all Umph originals, opening with a “JaJunk” that had guitarist Jake Cinninger at the forefront on a high energy favorite that pulled everyone in right away and jumpstarted things quickly. “Out Of Order” featured the return of Cinninger’s Moog synthesizer, which opened up guitarist Brendan Bayliss for his flowing solos throughout the night.

Coffin & Stasik :: 12.31.06 :: Chicago
A jam out of “FF” sent the Aragon into a slow dance funk with a dub bassline from Ryan Stasik that kept the crowd dancing. The segway into the lively “Miss Tinkle’s Overture” had almost an orchestral feel as Bayliss and Cinninger bent their strings. “Miss Tinkle’s” was heavy on Moog as Cinninger and Stasik went back and forth before Bayliss’ solo.

Saxophone player Jeff Coffin joined them for a jam out of “Bright Lights,” which was heavy on Coffin’s deep rumbling sax notes. The last half of “JaJunk” had Cinninger throwing his entire wiry frame into his solos, yanking the notes out before he knelt down to end the first set with the sky high energy.

Taj Mahal with UM :: 12.31.06 :: Chicago
The second set slowed things down a bit with lots of covers. Taj Mahal sat in for two songs, “You’ll Need Somebody On Your Bond” and the first “Farther on Down the Road” in five years. A four-piece horn section joined for most of the second set, including “Higgins” and Steely Dan’s “My Old School,” which closed the second set as the New Year crept closer.

Ambient noise oozed from the stage as Umphrey’s returned for their third set. Soon enough, the slamming chords of “Bridgeless” sent everyone into the New Year. The chaotic “Bridgeless” ending stretched as the crowd seethed in anticipation for the “Auld Lang Syne.” The jam from “Bridgeless” was the best of the night and the crowd responded accordingly, as bodies slammed and leapt through the air. Soon enough a sea of balloons and confetti littered the Aragon’s massive dance floor and “Auld Lang Syne” rang in 2007.

“Dick In a Box” :: 12.31.06 :: Chicago
After a toast and some banter, “Partyin’ Peeps” ushered in 2007. An exploratory “Triple Wide” transformed into a trance-heavy dance explosion with keyboardist Joel Cummins controlling the crowd with his Moog. Taj returned for “She Caught The Katy.” Memories of John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd came dancing back while Taj belted out the classic tune. “Mail Package” closed the third set, and Coffin was again in the spotlight with a massive saxophone jam.

For the encore, percussionist Andy Farag came out to join Bayliss, who was already playing lead champagne, for the vocals on “Dick In A Box,” a song from a recent Saturday Night Live skit, which made for a very funny, odd sing-a-long. Coffin returned for “Pay The Snucka,” which jammed on Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love.”

Out of the three nights, the 31st may not have been the best musically, but New Year’s Eve shows are supposed to be one giant party, and it definitely was that.

Umphrey’s McGee :: 12.31.06 :: The Aragon Ballroom :: Chicago, Il
Set I: JaJunk > Hangover, Out of Order > FF > Miss Tinkle’s Overture, Bright Lights^ > JaJunk
Set II: Wife Soup^^, You’ll Need Somebody On Your Bond^^*, Farther on Down the Road^^**, Slacker, Syncopated Strangers, Higgins^^, My Old School^^$
Set III: Bridgeless^^ > Auld Lang Syne^^, Partyin’ Peeps^^, 2×2 > The Triple Wide@, She Caught the Katy**, The Bottom Half^^, Mail Package^^
E: Dick In a Box$$, Pay the Snucka^%

Taj Mahal & the International Rhythm Band opened
^ with Jeff Coffin on saxophone
^^ with Jeff Coffin on saxophone, Michael “Mad Dog” Mavridoglou on trumpet, Chris Neal on saxophone, and Brent Sanders on trombone
* first time played, Blind Willie Johnson; with Taj Mahal
** with Taj Mahal
$ first time played, Steely Dan
@ with Jake on acoustic
$$ first time played, Saturday Night Live writers
% with Sunshine of Your Love jam

The Disco Biscuits with Keller Williams and DJ ?uestlove
12.31.06 :: Tweeter Center at the Waterfront :: Camden, NJ

Images by Kenny Pusey

The Disco Biscuits :: 12.31.06 :: Camden, NJ
Set I: Astronaut, The Great Abyss > Spacebirdmatingcall > 421 2 > Spacebirdmatingcall, Trucker’s Choice
Set II: Paul Revere3, Bazaar Escape4 > We’re Not Gonna Take It5 > Helicopters > Bazaar Escape > Munchkin Invasion > Basis For A Day > Bazaar Escape > Basis For A Day, Caterpillar, Therapy > Orch Theme6 > Therapy
E: Spaga

1 inverted
2 with Simon Posford
3 1st time played (Beastie Boys)
4 with countdown
5 1st time played (The Who); ending only (Listening to you…)
6 1st time played (Conspirator)

Gov’t Mule
12.31.06 :: Beacon Theatre :: New York, NY

Words by: Phil Santala :: Images by Dino Perrucci

Gov’t Mule :: 12.31.06 :: New York City
While the ball may have been getting dropped on Times Square, Warren Haynes was the main attraction for many music fans in NYC. Gov’t Mule‘s three-night run was capped off in true New Year’s style with a little help from their friends.

Highlights included straight up Mule selections like “Larger than Life” and “So Weak, So Strong.” Toots Hibbert of legendary Toots And The Maytals came out for the “Dub Side of the Mule” set, which included “54-46,” “Hard to Handle,” “True Love,” and “Baby Got Soul.” The stage was decorated with a Jamaican theme – palm trees, records, a sunset backdrop, and a brass band. Perhaps the most impressive song during the dub set was the Mule standard “I’ve Got Dreams” sung by Toots.

Toots with Gov’t Mule :: 12.31.06 :: New York City
Warren Haynes, the master of ceremonies, counted down and kicked off the New Year, eventually dropping into “Turn On Your Love Light” and “Soulshine” followed by the traditional “Auld Lang Syne.”

The final set found more of Warren’s friends taking the stage, including Gregg Allman, who led the band through a somber “Just like a Woman” and the Allman Brothers‘ tune “Woke Up This Morning.”

The house lights came up after the first encore but were quickly dimmed back down – nobody was ready to go quite yet. Finally a rousing encore was capped off with the Tom Waits tune “Goin’ Out West,” which found the audience singing Warren off stage.

Gov’t Mule :: 12.31.06 :: Beacon Theatre :: New York, NY
Set I: Thorazine Shuffle, Larger Than Life, She Said, She Said > Tomorrow Never Knows, Whiter Shade Of Pale, Dolphinius > Painted Silver Light, Sco-Mule, So Weak, So Strong
Set II: Dub Side Of The Mule: Play With Fire, Unring The Bell, I’m A Ram, 54-46, Hard To Handle, True Love Is Hard To Find, Pressure Drop, Let Down, Dreams To Remember Reggae Got Soul, Happy Mule Year! Turn On Your Lovelight, Reggae Soulshine
Set III: Gregg Allman & Friends: Sweet Feeling, Just Like A Woman
E: It Hurts Me Too, Goin’ Out West

^”Dub Side Of The Mule” guest artists
Gordie Johnson: Guitar & Vocals
Machan: Vocals
Elaine Caswell: Vocals
Buford O’Sullivan: Trombone
Pam Fleming: Trumpet
Jenny Hill: Saxophone
Sean Pelton: Percussion

Tea Leaf Green & The Brakes
12.31.06 :: Theater of Living Arts :: Philadelphia, PA

Words & Images by: Jake Krolick

Josh Clark – TLG :: 12.31 :: Philly
2006 scurried out of Philadelphia like a rabid animal frothing and dripping white hot saliva from its jaws. The city released its hold on another year as the Theater of Living Arts opened its doors to the left coast rock of Tea Leaf Green. Helping them welcome in 2007 was one of Philadelphia’s beloved own, The Brakes.

The evening’s attendees were plunged into sound promptly at nine by The Brakes’ spirited set. Fronted by the burly-piped vocals of Zach Djanikian, the band drew in stragglers from all over the venue. They kicked into high gear with a ferocious tune, “Riot at the TLA.” Matt Kass and Derek Fienberg‘s guitars dealt soul-laden notes back and forth as Zach crooned. They dipped into their bag of tricks pulling out “Special,” their mainstream ditty featured in an H&R block commercial. Josh Sack held down a well-built beat as Adam Flicker‘s fingers bounced across his keyboards. By the time the band hit its stride the floor was a bursting bubble of warm New Year’s grins. The welcoming sight of Zach holding down the pocket flanked by Matt and Derek on guitar took hold of the audience. The band debuted “The Chase,” a wild display of rock power, immediately followed by a piercing version of “Bullet.” With inferno eyes and much to prove, the young band energized the room.

Tea Leaf Green & The Brakes :: 12.31 :: Philly
Tea Leaf Green entered the TLA like the Greeks exploding out of their Trojan horse. The anxious crowd cried for TLG to slaughter them. Eventually, Josh Clark (guitar/vocals) and Trevor Garrod (keys/vocals) did their own mummers-style strut onto the stage. Trevor slapped the keys to life as they roamed through a “Country Seduction” warm-up. Ben Chambers (bass) and Scott Rager (drums) casually ducked in and out of the spinning rays of light. Their hands whirled away, creating swirl harmonies. TLG wrapped up the year looking to give their fans something impressive. Memorable moments swelled thick and heavy in the second set with the addition of the Brakes. As midnight approached, Josh Clark grabbed the mic. With a voice as smooth as Irish whisky, he exclaimed, “We can’t start till you count it off. The way I like it that’s the way it is. I’ve got mine, don’t worry ’bout his.”

James Brown’s “Sex Machine” exploded like a wild firecracker. Josh was flanked by Matt Kass and Derek Fienberg. The stage was set ablaze with a joining of the forces as the Brakes brought their wild youthful energy to the performance. Zack and Adam nestled onto the back riser of the stage with a robust bottle of Champagne. Each of their brass instruments honked out funky cries with fluid style.

Clark & Chambers :: 12.31 :: Philly
The tribute jam lasted long after the final balloons had dropped and the first kisses of 2007 dried on lover’s lips. The Brakes hung on stage to tear into AC/DC’s “Have a Drink on Me.” The crowded floor raged to the first sounds of 2007 with cries of “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!” Ben Chambers and Derek Fienburg locked instruments as Josh and Matt sang. This brilliant pairing of musicians sent the energetic rendition into oblivion. The second set was the payoff on our investment as TLG’s ultra-heavy sounds dominated the velvet walls and second floor balcony. The crowd shook with a drunken dancer’s fury as TLG unleashed a sugary little “Trenchtown Rock” tease during “Sex in the 70’s.” “Flippin the Bird” unveiled one of the evening’s creative props – a cardboard birdie contraption in place of the middle finger. Trevor was amused by the contraption, cocking his head and banging his keys in delight.

As one a.m. approached, Josh Sack – sporting a More Cowbell shirt – and a mystery bongo player in a massive afro emerged. Their percussive ferocity led both bands into the Beatles’ “I’ve Got a Feeling.” Josh worked his way to the front of the stage while beating the piss out of an old cowbell. It was difficult to tell where the applause ended and the laughter began. A spirited, and perhaps tipsy, Matt Kass flailed around during “GEORGIE P.” With a bunch of high fives and waves the evening ended as abruptly as it began. Good bands always leave you wanting more.

Tea Leaf Green :: 12.31.06 :: Theater of Living Arts :: Philadelphia, PA
Set I: Country Seduction, Panspermic De-evolution > If It Wasn’t for the Money > Panspermic De-evolution, Rapture, Hot Dog, Taught to be Proud, Gasaholic
Set II: Auld Lang Syne1,2, Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine1,3,4, Have a Drink on Me1,5, Franz Hanzerbeak, One Reason, Tequila, Truck Stop Sally, Sex in the 70’s, Piss It Away, Can You Guess It? > Death Cake > Can You Guess It?, Flippin’ the Bird6, The Garden (Part III)
E: I’ve Got a Feeling1,7, Georgie P1,4,7

Notes: w/ The Brakes, 1w/ The Brakes, 2w/ midnight countdown, 3James Brown cover, 4w/ Auld Lang Syne, 5AC/DC cover, 6w/ Trevor on harmonica, 7Beatles cover, 8w/ “This Land is Your Land” (Woody Guthrie) tease

STS9 (Sound Tribe Sector Nine)
12.31.06 :: The Tabernacle :: Atlanta, GA

Images by Brandon Merkley

STS9 :: 12.31.06 :: The Tabernacle :: Atlanta, GA
Set I: T. W. E. L. V. E., Luma Daylight, F. Word, Really Wut?, Mischief of a Sleepwalker, Instantly
Set II: You Don’t Say, countdown to 2007*, Life’s Sweet Breath*, Be Nice*, One a Day*, Ramone & Emiglio*, Kaya*, Inspire Strikes Back*, Aimlessly*
E: Music, Us, Moon Socket*

* = w/Richard Devine

Yonder Mountain String Band
12.31.06 :: Fillmore Auditorium :: Denver, CO

Words by: Brian Heisler :: Images by Pamela Martinez

YMSB :: 12.31 :: Denver
After a week of snow storms that created headaches all across the country, fans hoped their Denver New Year’s plans would not be ruined. The little string band from Nederland, CO, marched down the mountain to Denver’s Fillmore Auditorium to keep the marquee honest for three nights of Yonder Mountain String Band. Even all the opening artists and guests managed to trudge their way to The Fillmore. In the future the city of Denver may want to consider hiring the Yonder Mountain Plow Service – they seemed able to get the job done when no one else could.

Inside The Fillmore, all worries were left behind as the three-night blowout began with Keller Williams on 12/29 and the New Orleans Social Club on 12/30 supporting Yonder. On New Year’s Eve, Yonder pulled out all the stops. Percussion innovator Futureman did his magic with the YMSB members, never straying far from the stage the whole night. Opening to cheers with “Idaho,” the band moved into a monster jam, segueing “Fastball” > “Sometimes I’ve Won” > “On The Run” > “I’d Like Off” > “Too Late Now” > “Finally Saw The Light” > “On The Run.” Set two began with new favorite, “Classic Situation,” and closed with a Talking Heads cover, “Girlfriend is Better.”

YMSB :: 12.31 :: Denver
15 minutes shy of 2007, as the crowd chanted along to the Beastie Boys’ “Fight for Your Right (to Party),” Yonder Mountain String Band reemerged for that special time we wait for all year round and talk about until the next New Year – The Countdown. The band’s first song of 2007 was a cover of The Faces’ “Ooh La La,” to which the Mile High crowd added backup vocals. “We can’t wait to see you this year,” Jeff Austin told the audience as he began the encore and announced the band’s plans for 2007, including two nights at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. “The Bolten Stretch” and “Steam Powered Aeroplane” closed the weekend and another year for the Colorado new grass band.

YMSB :: 12.31.06 :: Fillmore Auditorium :: Denver, CO
Set I: Idaho, Fastball > Sometimes I’ve Won > On the Run > I’d Like Off1 > Too Late Now > Finally Saw The Light > On the Run, Rain Still Falls1, Romance Blues, Steep Grade Sharp Curves
Set II: Classic Situation, Fingerprint1, 2 Hits and The Joint Turned Brown, The Ewie Wi’ The Crookit Horn, Cuckoo’s Nest, 8 Cylinders, How ‘Bout You?, Andre De Sabato Nuovo1, Wind’s On Fire, Girlfriend Is Better
Set III: Ooh La La1, King Ebenezer Rap > Midwest Gospel Radio, Boatman2
E: The Bolton Stretch, Steam Powered Aereoplane

Futureman String Band opened
Entire show with Darol Anger on fiddle
Futureman on drums for sets 2 and 3, and Steam Powered Areoplane encore
1 First time played
2 Iko Iko tease

Perpetual Groove
12.31.06 :: The Music Farm :: Charleston, SC

Words by: Brian Bavosa :: Images by Brad Kuntz

Perpetual Groove :: 12.31 :: Charleston, SC
After two nights at their home venue of the “world famous” Georgia Theatre in Athens, Perpetual Groove rang in 2007 at Charleston, SC’s Music Farm.

“PGroove,” who consists of Brock Butler (guitar, vocals), Matt McDonald (keyboards), Adam Perry (bass), and Albert Suttle (drums), followed a loose formula over the three night run. The 29th focused on material written mostly around the time of their first release, Sweet Oblivious Antidote, while the 30th concentrated on tunes from 2004’s All This Everything. New Year’s Eve treated fans to a plethora of new material from their upcoming album, LiveLoveDie, tentatively scheduled for release on March 6th.

Opening NYE with the combo of “No Decorations,” and “Teakwood Betz,” PGroove showed that they have one foot firmly planted in the roots of their past, but are most certainly ready to tackle 2007 and the future beyond.

Brock Butler – PGroove :: 12.31 :: Charleston, SC
“So Much As Goodbye” and “Legends of Preston” filled out the first set, while a raucous, spiraling cover of “Get Down Tonight” set the tone for the last hour of 2006. With arms flailing, butts shaking, and the band leading us through the absurdly simple directions: “Get down, get down, get down, get down, get down To-Night!” the stage was set for the coming new year.

The second set, which began shortly before midnight, was an onslaught of newer material. McDonald filled “Two Shores” with patented Moog and synthesizer sounds, while Butler reminded a New Yorker such as myself that in a town like Charleston, “The water’s so nice.” PGroove put 2006 to bed with a nod from their themed Halloween show, in which they covered many of the songs from “A Life Aquatic.” The “Glock” jam, which heard repeated yells of “Esteban!” segued nicely into a NYE countdown.

As Butler smoothly rode along the riffs to “Auld Lang Syne,” The Music Farm erupted in cheers, champagne baths at the bars, confetti, and midnight kisses. And as quickly as ’06 went, ’07 was ushered in by two first-timers for the band, “Save for One” and “Mayday.” Both are unique, with “Mayday” supplying dark images of a robot marching into the ocean to battle with a gigantic octopus until eventually both are buried somewhere at the bottom of the sea.

Perpetual Groove :: 12.31 :: Charleston, SC
Placed against a sonic spider web of hope, “Three Weeks” featured soaring crescendos and uplifting lyrics that remind us of all the ups, downs, heartaches and redemption that life throws our way.

“Crapshoot” was led by Perry’s bass line, and was nothing short of a boa constrictor that slowly crawls up your leg and torso, until it eventually wraps itself around your neck and squeezes the dear life out of you.

“Decepticon Structure,” “Out Here,” and “Speed Queen” rounded out the second set. The encore of “Only Always” again showcased Butler’s sentimental lyrics, which allowed the audience to establish an immediate connection with him.

Just when you think the shows over, the band reminded us it was in fact New Year’s Eve — the biggest, baddest party of them all. So, they returned for a second encore of Rage Against the Machine’s “Bulls on Parade,” with McDonald on guitar, and the aforementioned Butler on lead freestyle vocals.

Perpetual Groove : 12.31.06 :: The Music Farm :: Charleston, SC
Set I: No Decorations, Teakwood Betz, So Much As Goodbye, Legends Of Preston, Get Down Tonight
Set II: Two Shores, Glock Jam* > Auld Lang Syne > Save For One**, Mayday**, Three Weeks, The March Of Gibbles Army, Crapshoot, Decepticon Structure, Out Here, Speed Queen
E1: Only Always
E2: Bulls On Parade

* with Wilco-Spiders (Kidsmoke) tease
**First Time Played

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
12.31.06 :: Higher Ground :: Burlington, VT

Words & Images by: Trevor Pour

Grace Potter :: 12.31 :: Burlington, VT
Capping off a three-night run, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals sold out their third straight New Year’s Eve to a blend of college partiers and 50-year old music connoisseurs. Grace Potter has achieved a level of success, at least in the Northeast, that spans a wide range of musical tastes as well as all generations. Her music has been called folk, punk, country, jamband, blues, and rock. Her shows attract concertgoers as young as 12 and those old enough to be Grace’s grandparents. She’s obviously doing something right.

As 10:30 rolled around, the Nocturnals took the stage and ripped into Neil Young’s “Tonight’s the Night,” revving the energy in the room way up with the impressive guitar work of Scott Tournet. After only 15-minutes, the Nocturnals swapped out their electric guitars for mandolins, squeezeboxes, and lap steels. Jokingly offering to bribe the audience to keep quiet for an acoustic set, the quartet settled down for a few slower songs that strangely didn’t interrupt the flow of the show. The crowd’s enthusiasm carried into the quieter set. The 45-minute first set ended with the beautiful vocals of Grace Potter on the title track from the band’s recent studio album Nothing But The Water.

Scott Tournet :: 12.31 :: Burlington, VT
After a far-too-long set break, the Nocturnals returned only minutes before midnight and a crowd that was almost expecting to miss the moment. A stilt-walker dressed as Father Time rushed his way through the excited audience to hand a giant clock to Grace for the final countdown. After a quick “Auld Lang Syne,” the Nocturnals tore into a rendition of The Beatles‘ “Come Together,” prompting a sing-a-long by virtually every able voice in the concert hall. At this point, they had won us over. Balloons were flying, confetti was in everyone’s beer, and the champagne was flowing. Another cover immediately followed, a flat take on James Brown‘s “Sex Machine.” It was pretty clear that the band had very little idea how to play funk music, but the crowd didn’t care and the energy was spot on.

Grace Potter :: 12.31 :: Burlington, VT
The rest of the show was mostly newer material with the exception of “Treat Me Right” and “Joey.” The energy onstage never faded but her new songs focused heavily on Tournet’s guitar solos and Grace’s occasional guitar forays, both of which turned out to be lacking by the end of the night. Tournet’s skills were up to the task of a high-energy NYE show, but they just didn’t hold water when it came to creativity. His jams were often without direction, although they were blazingly fast and right on tempo. Unfortunately, many audience members began to leave soon after this loud-guitar style began to eclipse the soul of the first set. To explain this odd change, Grace admitted near the end of the night that she lost her voice earlier in the show. She apologized told us their planned setlist was cut short when she lost her voice, and they moved to songs that depended less on singing.

By the time the band left the stage after the second set, over half the audience had left but the band still brought themselves back for an encore though there was virtually no call for one. An odd, kazoo-accompanied sing-along of “Join the Band,” followed by a decent cover of Young’s “Cortez the Killer” closed out the night. Potter’s first set gave hope that this year was the mere tip of the iceberg for her future, but her second set scared many of what might become without a solid foundation. The road ahead is still shining bright for Potter, and we are certainly not letting half a bad night convince music fans otherwise.

Galactic with Papa Mali & Soul Rebels Brass Band
12.31.06 :: Tipitina’s :: New Orleans, LA

Words by: John-Ryan Hevron :: Images by: Cara Schembri

Galactic :: 12.31.06 :: New Orleans
We walked into Tip’s with last year’s New Year’s Eve performance in mind. That show was Galactic‘s first time playing New Orleans post-Katrina, and both the crowd and the music were drunk with urgency. We could tell right away that this year would be different. Tip’s wasn’t quite as crowded, the people weren’t quite as dressed up, and the overall energy was down a notch. But, even without that spark in the air, Tipitina’s is Galactic’s homebase, and they always put on a good show there.

We stood in the back and listened to the end of Papa Mali‘s opening set. His trio was rounded out by Kevin O’Day on drums and Scott Nelson on bass. What we heard was good, but it didn’t kick start our evening. Galactic drummer Stanton Moore sat in on drums and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux on vocals for “Fire Water” and “Carnival Time.”

As Papa Mali finished, the crowd arrived all at once. We snaked our way to the front while we still had a chance. The stage had the feel of a band rehearsal space decorated with Mardi Gras leftovers. A metallic silver sheet, like the space blankets they hand out at marathons, hung from the back wall. Two different sized disco balls hung like giant mirrored grapes on either end of the stage and a blingtastic three-foot-tall, silver mirrored “G” sat on a pedestal in the middle. As always Professor Longhair’s painted portrait, dressed up with a hat and clock, looked down on the proceedings from above.

Jeff Raines :: 12.31.06 :: New Orleans
While we waited for the band to start, DJ Medi4 had the crowd sing along to Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll.” The “lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time” refrain quickly turned into an enthusiastic chant of “Who dat? Who dat? Who dat say they gonna beat them Saints?” The New Orleans Saints are making a rare but deserved appearance in the playoffs this year, and the city is beyond excited.

While introducing the band, the Tipitina’s MC announced, “Last year was a year of survival, but this year is our year to kick ass!” The audience on the rail crowded in as guitarist Jeff Raines, dressed in a light blue tuxedo jacket, ripped into the opening of “Fema.” This would be an “on night” for him. The funk continued with “Go Go” and “Garbage Truck” and before we knew it, the Soul Rebels Brass Band was onstage, bringing the head count to 13. After a couple jams it was time for the countdown. Though it might have been a few minutes past midnight by Professor Longhair’s clock, the Soul Rebels’ trombone player assured us that it was 11:59. We celebrated with plastic cups of champagne as the horns played “Auld Lang Syne.” The Soul Rebels then left the stage and Galactic reclaimed the show with a fiery take on the JB’s “Hot Pants Road,” which included some Beastie Boys “Sabotage” style soloing from bass player Rob Mercurio.

Papa Mali then voodooed his way onto the stage and impressed right away with an Allmans’ “Whipping Post-esque” version of John Lee Hooker’s “Bottle Up and Go.” His guitar playing and singing were inspired, but his midnight-blue pimp hat with a big yellow feather stuck in the side was ridiculous. He followed up with a solid take on Aaron Neville’s funk classic, “Hercules.” After “the Moil,” Galactic continued the Zep theme with an instrumental “Immigrant Song.” I simultaneously pumped my fist to the music and tried to get the bartender’s attention for a last plastic cup of champagne.

Papa Mali & Chief Monk Boudreaux :: 12.31.06 :: New Orleans
The band invited the Soul Rebels back to the stage and closed the set out with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band’s “Blackbird Special.” Afterwards, the Soul Rebels stayed to play a full set of their own. We needed a break but the Soul Rebels were just too good to skip. Frankly, they gave Galactic a run for their money as party band of the evening. In the tradition of New Orleans brass bands, they played a medley of familiar crowd pleasers including “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5, “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley, and “Give it Up” by James Brown. They showed rare restraint by closing their set with a jubilant take on Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love” rather than another “Who dat?” chant.

For Galactic’s second set, we relocated to the balcony. As usual, the floor was slick from spilled drinks and the condensation from a couple hundred moving bodies. Galactic started up with a version of “Black Eyed Pea” that included a terrific solo by Stanton Moore. They segued into even more Zeppelin with new regular “Trampled Under Foot.” What followed was darker and more intense than the first set and eventually found Annie Clemons on bass for a lively take on the Meter’s “Little Ole Money Maker.”

Papa Mali then returned for Al Green’s “I’m a Ram.” He sang well, but it’s hard to beat versions performed by their former singer at earlier Tip’s shows. They followed with a brooding “Walk on Guilded Splinters” that was one of the highlights of the night. The band was lit with a muddy mix of yellow and blue, the murky light reflected in the silver backdrop providing an underwater effect. Papa Mali and Chief Monk Boudreaux handled vocals, channeling everything spooky and preaching to the crowd while Anders Osborne banged away on a cowbell in the back.

Soul Rebels Brass Band :: 12.31.06 :: New Orleans
Galactic closed things out with a high energy “Shibuya” that cemented Jeff’s status as MVP of the night. After a short encore break, the band played two more instrumentals. The first was Robert Walter’s “Poison Pussy” (or “Poison Pushy” as it says on the liner notes of his last album), which they played as a classic Meters-style four-piece lineup. Saxophonist Ben Ellman rejoined them for the final song, “Bongo the Dog.”

I wasn’t the only one who felt that the show ended a little early. Last year’s three-set marathon had raised our expectations high. Though I suspect that the early ending had something to do with the band wanting to get in a little more family time before heading off to Jam Cruise the next day, it might have been the energy of the evening as well. As I wrote earlier, the vibe in the room lacked some of the urgency of last year’s Katrina catharsis show. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing. It could be a sign that New Orleans is finally settling down and heading back to normalcy.

Galactic :: 12.31.06 :: Tipitina’s :: New Orleans, LA
Set I: Fema, Go Go, Garbage Truck, Soul Rebels tune (Soul Rebels), Auld Lang Syne (Soul Rebels), Hot Pants, Bottle up & go (Papa Mali), Hercules (Papa Mali), Moil, Immigrant Song, Blackbird Special (Soul Rebels)
Soul Rebels Set: I Want You Back, Raise the Roof, Crazy, Give It Up, Who Dat?, When the Saints Go Marching In > Blister in the Sun > When the Saint Go Marching In, Crazy In Love
SET II: Black eyed Pea > Trampled under foot, Sunday Araq, Black Talk, Lil ole’ Money Maker (Annie Clemens, Bass), Tiger Roll > Bounce Baby > Space Headz, I’m A Ram (Papa Mali), Walk on Guilded Splinters (Papa Mali, Monk Boudroux, Anders Osbourne), Shibuya
E: Poison Pussy, Bongo the Dog

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