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  • Inspired On The Road

    "The plot thickens as I race back into the house to get a few more things that we need so we can get on the road. Thirty minutes late already, but the future holds endless possibilities. The cascading scenery flows by, like our minds have been forced into the fast forward position from a remote control. Life is here, open for us to see and take control of, or let slip through our fingers this time around. Friendly faces arise from crowds, and laughter fills the room, creating an electrifying feeling that makes ones hair stand on end. This feeling is our souls reaching a higher, almost spiritual realm of togetherness. Go throw out your dirty socks, get a bag together and prepare yourself to be inspired on the road."

    Here are the musings of a musician and a photographer capturing a life of art...

Railroad Earth at the Town Ballroom in Buffalo, March 14th

On Thursday March 14th, Railroad Earth, a New Jersey based bluegrass unit played at The Town Ballroom in Buffalo. I could feel the anticipation growing as we all waited for the show to start. As the band took the stage, the audience was greeted with smiles as the atmosphere in the room felt like a weight had been lifted. Although these guys only started playing in 2001, (aside from bassist Andrew Altman, originally of the Codetalkers, who joined in 2010) it seemed like they had all been together for 30 years. The way in which they are able to walk in and out of a song and bring it back like they had never stepped away was quite a sight to be seen.

The first set was filled with some great songs, starting off with a stunning performance of “Storms,” the leading track off of their The Good Life album. Both “Elko” and “The Cuckoo” stretched out over 8 minutes long each and were exceptional songs. After this segment came the Hank Ballard tune, “Tore Up Over You”, made famous by the Jerry Garcia Band. At this great moment in the show and you could see the band had the crowd’s attention. “Crossing The Gap” and “Bringin’ My Baby Back Home” ended the first set, from which the band gave a nice taste of it all, creating a groove in which anyone could get in to.

Set two opened with “Seven Story Mountain,” off The Black Bear Sessions, a song that my fiance and I adore. Not only was this one of the best versions I have heard, it was packed with some amazing intermingling between the members. Shortly after they ended the song we were treated to another two great choices off of the same album,”Chains” and “Lordy, Lordy.” Both of these songs are awesome in their own right, but the lyrics of “Chains” are a poetic masterpiece. “Head”, the opening song off of The Black Bear Sessions, came later in the set and was over sixteen minutes of pure bliss. Ending the set was a great rendition of the classic spiritual hymn “Wayfaring Stranger” and a phenomenal version of the newer Railroad Earth original “Hard Living.” The encore came and the bad played “I Ain’t Got No Home.”It was truly an amazing night where wonderful memories were made.

Review written by Jason Staniszewski

Keller Williams at The Tralf in Buffalo

As Friday started, all I could think about was what lay in store for us in this evening to come. Getting downtown, we got to the TralfMusic Hallin Buffalo, NYjust before 8pm. While we were waiting to get in, Keller Williams had taken the stage. Keller is an amazing multi-instrumentalist from the Fredericksburg, VAarea that truly takes you to another place. Although some of his song titles and lyrics have a comical annotation, do not let that fool you. This guy is a master of his craft and can truly create some magic onstage. The stage was set up with a smorgasbord of gear, including 3 guitars, a bass, a Theremin, a drum pad and sampler, as well as an assortment of other bells and whistles.

As Keller started his first set, people started flooding in to this Sold Out night of music. A great jam that leads into “Turtle in the Front Row” initiated the night’s festivities, surrounding us with a great vibe and a feeling of tranquility. An amazing version of “Breathe” was next in the mix. About half through this tune KDub, as his fans call him, took us for a journey through an Indian style jam that he not only danced and saluted the sky to, but also brought out numerous chimes, bells etc. that he looped to have it continuously play while he added more layers. After taking us on this jaunt he came back into “Breathe” and finished with the crowd in awe. We were all then greeted with a familiar tune, “Sugaree” from the Grateful Dead, that Keller new the audience would love, and that we did. With everyone singing along, we all had smiles on our faces knowing that this was going to be a night to remember. Having had some issues with his guitar, Williams looped a small sample while scatting and tuning his guitar all at the same time, not an easy feat! Again showing us why he has become such an influential musician within this jam scene we all know and love. Later in the set we were treated to a nice stick of the “Juicy Fruit Theme Song.” This is something I love about this music, little jingles or riffs that some may never think to use live, and here we were.

“Funk de Funk” took shape and took on like a fever, a funky sort of fever which could make anyone a believer. After another song Keller took control of “Uncle Disney,” a song that was written with The Keels, this song is about a time in the future when they unthaw Walt Disney and fingers will be pointed with over 40 years of decisions made. Describing Americaas a giant theme park, with us that are “toons” will end up being just fine! Although this song is quite comical, the lyrical scheme is just phenomenal. “Doobie in My Pocket” was on deck which describes a time in which Keller had a joint that he placed in his pocket as he went to the airport. The story goes on to describe an onslaught of ideas to where this doobie may now be. Thinking he forgot it in his bag and wondering if someone from the TSAor a police officer may take it and give it to a Jamaican guy at the Starbucks for a coffee. The song ends with him realizing he is still wearing the shirt in which the doobie is. After another song the set was coming to an end. Another Grateful Dead cover was in line, “Till’ The Morning Comes,” and it was a beautiful one, interlaced with a stellar jam and vocal segment. The set had ended, and we all couldn’t wait to see what the second set had in store.

Set two has started, Keller started to tell a story about how this first song is about a dream he had being on The Price Is Right TV show. “Bob Rules” was then started which again has some very interesting lyrics in which Keller makes it to the showcase showdown, even after getting booed for not being able to spin the wheel around a full rotation on his first try. Trying again, he landed on 95cents and ends up going head to head with a marine in the showcase. He then wakes up realizing he was just dreaming and thinking about actually being on the show. During the middle of the song we were treated to a cover of Fiona Apple’s “Criminal.” A few notes were started and the Crowd went CRAZY!!!!!! “Gate Crashers Suck” had commenced, this song tells about the Grateful Dead’s show at Deer Creek in Indiana in which fans tore the fence down to get in to the show. In turn, the band cancelled the next show. Keller talks about how he had been to every show there since 89′ and how pissed he was that these people could do this to his “Indiana Vacation.” The song usually ends with a very strong message to these people, but on this night KDub changed it around by first saying, “Actually, it’s ok, I am over it, I finally forgive them.” With the crowd erupting, Keller then said, “Nah Never mind,” and we all sang the refrain. With all of us on the same page, we were then graced with yet another Grateful Dead song “Shakedown Street.” This was the first time I have seen Keller do this one solo. It was an amazing take on the song, which included a very well played jam that led back into the last verse and outro.

Another few songs have passed and “Freshies” had begun. An original song that talks about a time in which Keller thought about taking his pants off while snowboarding and getting chased by the ski patrol through the woods, yelling at him that they will clip his ticket, with Keller yelling back that his ticket is still on his pants at the top of the mountain, in which they had nothing to clip. The crowd seemed to really enjoy themselves during this one, really getting in the groove and enjoying the moment. Next there was “Love Handles,” a Williams original that talks about his love handles, telling his girl that she can hold onto them. Following this was Snoop Dog’s “Mary Jane,” a cover that truly fit the night and had everyone living in the moment. This again proved to the crowd how diverse of a catalog Keller truly has. The second set ended with “Super Hot Girl,” another original song from Keller. The encore had begun and the night was ended with KDub’s original song “Boob Job.” We were all happy with the show and the set list that bounced back and forth throughout numerous genres of music that would leave any fan in disbelief.

The night didn’t end there for me though. Lindsey, my friend Jonah and I got to our car and headed to Duke’s Bohemian Grove Bar, also known as DBGB’s, a local bar in the Allen Street District in Buffalo. As we arrived, we were greeted by a ton of our friends and some new faces. Family Funktion and the Sitar Jams were the opening act with Rochesterbased heavy hitters OCUPANTHER ending the night. Family Funktion started about 20 minutes after we got there, creating an amazing array of music, with an Indian based platform that took a phenomenal psychedelic twist. About half way through their set, Keller Williams showed up to hang with the crowd. Keller came to the back of the room once he was done dancing and Ocupanther had started to set up. I got an opportunity to talk with him for a few minutes about music, Buffalo, the Grateful Dead and a few other things while also being able to get a quick picture! Keller is seriously a standup guy and one of the classiest of musicians that I have had the pleasure of meeting in the music scene. Ocupanther started and Keller dove back in to jam out like the rest of us. Both of these acts are worth checking out if you haven’t heard of them yet. This ended the night for us, proving once again how music can seriously soothe the soul

Keller Williams

Live at the TralfMusic Hall

Buffalo, NY

02/22/2013

Set 1-

Jam->

Turtle in the Front Row

Breathe

Sugaree

Let’s Jam

Till’ We Close Our Minds for Good?????

Juicy Fruit Theme Song->

???

Funk de Funk

Let Your Fancy Flow????

Uncle Disney

Doobie in My Pocket

Between Your Heart and Your Head

Till’ The Morning Comes

Set 2-

Bob Rules->

Criminal->

Bob Rules

Gate Crashers Suck

Shakedown Street

?

?

Floatin On the Freshies

Love Handles

Mary Jane

Super Hot Girl

Encore-

Boob Job

This was originally published HERE

Written by Jason Staniszewski

Big Gigantic at Water Street Music Hall in Rochester, Feb 17th

Big Gigantic performed at Water Street Music Hall in Rochester on February 17th to a packed house. Consisting of saxophonist and producer Dominic Lalli and drummer Jeremy Salken. Don’t let this two person unit fool you, these guys are at the head of their scene, creating a night full of in your face bass, mixed with an almost orchestrated jazz infusion. Having released their fourth album, Nocturnal in 2012, which reached #2 on the iTunes electronica charts, this band has created a huge buzz around the world amid playing major festivals and a growing fanbase. The crowd in Rochester was filled with fans from all genres and all seemed eager to hear what these two had to put forth. Security was on their toes, but this didn’t seem to stop anyone from enjoying their night.

Mixing up hip-hop beats from numerous artists like Jay-Z, Notorious B.I.G. and Aloe Blacc makes these guys a hit among the younger generation of music goers. “Can I Get A…” off Jay-Z’s 1998 release Vol. 2- A Hard Knock Life, took over the system as producer Dominic Lalli added a cluster of synth and bass effects, while Salken took control rolling through his drum kit. The lights were in full effect by this point, and the lights alone were worth the admission to the show. Showing images of ancient Aztec symbols, spiraling colors and even a play on the old video game Pac Man. Later on a collection of $100 bills lit the screens along with money signs as the duo broke into Aloe Blacc’s 2010 hit “I Need A Dollar,” a song that talks about lending an ear to hear a story as long as you are willing to share your dollar with the singer. Creating their own twist to the song and Lalli adding luscious sax lines over Salken’s drums was awe inspiring.

This band has really created its own sub genre in the elctronica/dubstep category and already has fans pouring in to see them from high schools and colleges on a Sunday night. If you are into EOTO, Sky High, Papadosio, Break Science, Lotus or even Sound Tribe Sector 9, Big Gigantic is highly recommend to checking out. It seems as though the sky is the limit for this group and with their touring schedule taking them all over country, make sure you keep an eye out for them when they come to a town near you! However, make sure you get your tickets beforehand, due to many of their shows selling out, and get ready to dance!

Originally published on UpstateLIVE.com

Photos by Lindsey Robinson Photography

Review written by Jason Staniszewski

Badfish at The Town Ballroom in Buffalo on Friday, Feb 15th

I was so excited when I heard that the well known Sublime cover band, BadFish was coming to Buffalo. This band is known to put on a great, high energy show. We got to the Town Ballroom just in time to catch the second of the two opening acts. Tropidelic hit the stage with a horn section, keys, guitar, drums, percussion, bass and a lead vocalist. It was like a zoo onstage, but these guys made it work, capturing the audiences attention and creating a new-age ska style that any Sublime fan could appreciate. With the people packing in, Tropidelic seemed to take it to the next level showing off why this Ohio based band will be sharing the bill with Badfish again for another night in the future.

After the set ended and the stage was rearranged, the lights went out. Out from the speakers came Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” to which the entire crowd lit lighters and sang along. At the last chorus of the song, the members of Badfish came out and helped sing the final few parts. It was showtime! Another recording came over the system, from the opening segment of “Smoke 2 Joints” and the crowd went crazy, with an already foggy and green smelling room, the place literally lit up! Originally written by The Toyes and released in 1983, it became a hit among the Sublime crowd in which Bradley Nowell made his own. Next up was a Sublime original “Greatest Hits,” which pays tribute to the band The Ziggens. ”Santeria” was started and the crowd took control singing the lead for the first verse of this one. The crowd response did not stop there as Badfish’s key player Dorian Duffy came out and started up some samples of “Garden Grove,” another Sublime original that is a staple tune among fans. Taking structure next was Sublime’s cover of Bad Religion’s “We’re Only Gonna Die,” which Sublime changed to “We’re Only Gonna Die From Our Own Arrogance,” released on their 40 oz to Freedom album in 1992.

The guys then broke into “Doin’ Time,” a take on George Gershwin’s “Summertime,” which Bradley wrote his own lyrics for. Singer Pat Downes had really proved to the audience in his range and way to captivate a crowd just like Bradley had back in the actual days of Sublime. “Slow Ride” was next, originally off the Demo Jah Won’t Pay The Bills, later found on Second Hand Smoke, and took flight into a great version of “Hong Kong Fooey,” written for the cartoon show of the same name. Although Sublime did not write this one, a version they did was produced  by Ralph Sall and put onto A Tribute To Saturday Morning Cartoon’s Greatest Hits in 1995. Following this mashup, the band started “89 Vision,” a studio song that was never released until 2007 on the box set Everything Under The Sun. Joel Hanks, bass player of Badfish, started up the opening licks for “Caress Me Down,” to which the crowd erupted, spitting out their best Spanglish to sing along with Downes. “Don’t Push” came next, with great lyrics that play on a part of Bob Marley’s “Buffalo Soldier,” while talking about Marley himself as well as some other quite famous people. A great version of “Saw Red” led into the original “And with it Rain.” This song fit seamlessly with the Sublime music, showing the diversity of how this band can react with their own compilations, throwing in a quick cover of Bob Marley’s “One Love” in the middle of the song as well.

We all then went for a comfortable ride to the “Pawn Shop” as the guys took the song out for a really nice jam that led into a wonderful acoustic segment. Pat Downes took the reigns and stood center stage to perform The Melodians hit “Rivers of Babylon”, made famous on 40 oz. to Freedom. With Scott Begin back on the drums and Downes still on acoustic guitar, they started another Marley classic, “Redemption Song.” The audience gladly sang along to a newer style rendition to this tune, that had great pauses and powerful breaks to help captivate the moment. As the rest of the members came back, the Grateful Dead’s “Scarlet Begonias” started and the Buffalo crowd ate it up, consuming the lyrics of the Bradley Nowell rap segment that describes a girl that has taken control over him, enough to sell off his belongings and to purchase a microbus that they sell drugs out of while on tour. With perfect timing the band broke into “What Happened,” a tune about not remembering the last night of partying, in which I think most of the crowd would be understanding the next morning themselves. The Toots and Maytals song “54-46″ was started and led into “Ball and Chain,” after which we were all transformed into Badfish ourselves, with the guys breaking into the song that they named themselves after, complete with members of the audience making the Nowell’s signature “BEEEWWWWWW”sound. Afterwards we were treated to another original “Scotty Don’t”, Badfish’s original name. Although “Wrong Way” was next, there really didn’t seem to be a wrong way to groove out to this band. With this monstrous set rolling to a conclusion, Badfish finished off the set with originals “Same in the End,” and “Date Rape.” The band had a standing ovation and left the stage for a brief moment, before returning for a four song encore.

As the stage was filled again, trombonist Bryan House came running out to the main mic having the crowd chant ” OLE, OLE, OLE,  OLE,” getting the already excited crowd even more amped up. Although House is a new member to the band (new in 2013), his stage presence brought an amazing vibe to the setup that caught the attention of us in the audience numerous times. My favorite Sublime song, “Waiting for my Ruca!” was played next, with Dorian Duffy hitting the midi synched bass notes that romped through the system and sent shivers up your spine. Part of the melody for “Seed” was taken from The Bel-Airs “Mr. Moto.”, with “April 26th, 1992″ on deck, which had all ready to participate in some anarchy. The lyrics portray a crazy night in California history, when the L.A. riots took place. The composition on this one is really well done and can really send you back to that night without having been there. The end arrived with the expected “What I Got” to round out the night. The band had a blast doing this one, asking for help from their fans to help them sing along.

The show was over and everyone was happy with the outcome. Badfish had done what they came to do, create an atmosphere similar to that of an actual Sublime show, and in my opinion they did it with ease. These guys are a must see for any Sublime fan that was or wasn’t able to catch them while Bradley was alive.

Setlist: Smoke Two Joints, Greatest Hits, Santeria, Garden Grove, We’re Only Gonna Die, Doin’ Time, Slow Ride-> Hong Kong Fooey, 89′ Vision, Caress Me Down, Don’t Push, Saw Red, And With It Rain-> One Love-> And With It Rain, Pawn Shop, Rivers Of Babylon, Redemption Song, Scarlet Begonias, What Happened, 54-46->Ball n Chain, Badfish, Karate, Wrong Way, Same In the End, Date Rape

Encore: Waiting For My Ruca, Seed, April 26th, 1992, What I Got

Originally published on UpstateLIVE.com

Written by Jason Staniszewski

Photos by Lindsey Robinson Photography