The Trick Is To Keep Going

Archive for May, 2010

Concerts, Vol. 12: Jack Bruce and Friends

by on May.23, 2010, under Music

Jack Bruce & Friends. From left, Bruce, guitarist Larry Coryell, keyboardist Mike Mandel and drummer Mitch Mitchell.

Jack Bruce & Friends. From left, Bruce, guitarist Larry Coryell, keyboardist Mike Mandel and drummer Mitch Mitchell.

After the breakup of Cream in 1968, it became a point of fascination to see what was next for the three members.

Eric Clapton got together with Steve Winwood to form Blind Faith, which lasted from late 1968 to the end of the summer of ’69, producing one album and an ill-fated tour. He then took up with Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett in their touring band, Delaney & Bonnie and Friends. That led to Clapton’s first self-titled solo album, produced by Delaney, which still stands as one of Clapton’s very best.

Ginger Baker quickly formed an all-star band of sorts after Blind Faith, dubbed Air Force and recorded a double live and a studio album under the name. It was short-lived. He went through many other musical vehicles in the ’70s and ’80s but always seemed to produce his best work when recording what we now call World Music, then in the ’90s recorded two extraordinary jazz albums with Bill Frisell and Charlie Haden.

As for Bruce, he had already recorded a straight jazz album, which bordered on free jazz, in August of ’68, Things We Like, even before the Farewell Cream tour of that fall.

That was followed by Songs For A Tailor (September, 1969), a truly amazing mix of R&B, soul, blues, folk and rock blended with his Celtic sensibilities, particularly in his vocals, and the enigmatic yet compelling lyrics of his writing partner from Cream days, Peter Brown.

After Songs For A Tailor, probably his most successful commercial album, he has continued to blaze his own path with a string of artistic achievements in his solo career and with others, particularly Kip Hanrahan in the ’80s and ’90s, that has in most cases escaped the music world at large and especially the rock press. That notwithstanding, it can be easily argued Bruce has been the most creative and successful artistically of the three members from Cream.

Jack Bruce & Friends poster 3 SmallIn early 1970 Bruce put an intriguing and accomplished band together to tour in support of Songs For A Tailor. Called Jack Bruce & Friends, I noticed they were to play at the Fillmore East the weekend of January 30-31 as the opening act for Mountain! Leslie West’s group, at the time, was of course doing very well commercially in the wake left by Cream, but it startled and somewhat annoyed me that Bruce would actually be opening for them.

Nonetheless, my girlfriend and I secured tickets and went to one of the early shows. As I recall it was the Saturday night performance, although it’s possible it was Friday. In the 1990s, I became aware of a recording of one of the shows from that weekend. That kind of stunned me at the time, but it’s now happened more often than you would think possible. At first I believed it was the actual show we attended but I have seen it variously listed as either early show Jan. 30 or late show Jan. 31. So it’s impossible to pin down.

Suffice to say, the setlist is the same as the show we saw. And the recorded document confirms that although this band had not been together that long, it was producing dynamic and intricate versions of Bruce’s tunes, mainly from Songs For A Tailor. (continue reading…)

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Taylor out of hospital

by on May.17, 2010, under Music

A fews days after we saw Mick Taylor at the Iron Horse in Northampton, Mass., on April 29, he took ill after a gig at the Bull Run Restaurant in Shirley, Mass., (May 1). Messages, coming mostly from Rolling Stones message boards, had Taylor in a Boston-area hospital.

Mick Taylor at the Iron Horse in Northampton, Mass., April 29.

Mick Taylor at the Iron Horse in Northampton, Mass., April 29.

It was quite difficult to substantiate anything about this other than most of his shows on the Eastern swing of his first tour of America since 2007 were quickly postponed or canceled. Within days, the entire tour, which included stops in California and Texas, apparently was nixed. One blog from the San Diego area confirmed that. There were no other published reports I could track down or official statement’s from Taylor’s management as there had been a year ago when he canceled a U.S. Tour before it got started.

I didn’t doubt anything from the Stones boards, but it was skant and there were no details available. Until I received some first-hand information from a friend who I would not have thought would prove to be a source on what was happening with Taylor.

On Tuesday of last week, Taylor and his drummer Jeff Allen popped in on one of the best luthiers in Connecticut, Paul Neri. Taylor told Neri he had been in a Fall River hospital with pneumonia and almost died. He said he believed he had never really shaken a bout with pneumonia that he had contracted previously. Taylor had a noticeable mark on his neck from an IV and his breathing was labored.

Allen evidently has a friend in the area and he and Taylor were headed to a jam that night, the guitarist’s shape notwithstanding. Taylor took a 1936 Gibson LOO acoustic for the jam from Paul’s shop, which is on the shoreline in Clinton.

Unfortunately, Taylor didn’t look that well, but one would conclude he’s on the mend somewhat since he’s out of hospital and playing guitar. As for the tour being re-booked, nothing new there.

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Shelby Lynne on her own

by on May.11, 2010, under Music


It seems truly unbelievable that a record company such as Lost Highway could reject an album by Shelby Lynne, particularly when it is as compelling and heartfelt as Tears, Lies & Alibis.

But it happened. It goes on more than you would think with top artists. As Lynne mentioned during her set at The Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, Mass., Friday, she was through with the world of corporate companies and has released Tears, Lies & Alibis on her own label, Everso Records.

Now, she said, she can release an album anytime she wants to and promised a Christmas album this year, something she has been trying to convince a record label to do for 20 years.

Amid all this life-changing turmoil, Lynne is touring the country in support of Tears with a three-piece band that includes Nashville guitarist John Jackson and Lynne’s producer and bass player, Brian Harrison.

At the Iron Horse they ran through a beautifully arranged set that featured songs from the new album and material from her previous albums, all of which since 2000’s I Am Shelby Lynne have showcased her extraordinary voice and songwriting skills, with an eclectic mix of country, rock, folk, Southern soul, blues and more.

Fortunately, the videos above and below, shot by one of her crew, show off Lynne’s performance at the Iron Horse. So, you can get an intimate and immediate display of her talents. She also often talked extensively between songs and some of the raps were very funny.

Hearing her music in this stripped-down setting was revelatory and a wonderful showcase for Jackson’s prodigious picking skills, particularly on slide that he makes sound like a pedal steel. Jackson is on the new album as well as Harrison, so between recording and playing live now for several weeks, the three were tight and played with a strong feel and connection to the music and each other. (continue reading…)

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Mick Taylor finally arrives in America

by on May.01, 2010, under Music

Last July, blues guitarist Mick Taylor was scheduled to play four shows in New England during an American Tour, his first gigs in the U.S. since 2007. The entire tour was canceled, though, after Taylor was diagnosed with a blood clot in his chest and pleurisy.

jimi hendrix tribute 191007Recovered and looking healthy, Taylor rescheduled the tour for this spring and arrived in Boston Wednesday night. His five-piece group, which includes notable keyboardist Max Middleton, played in Northampton Thursday at the Iron Horse Music Hall to an enthusiastic and rowdy capacity crowd.

Though the band was jet-lagged, as Taylor mentioned, they shook off the rust and ran through a 1 1/2-hour set that showcased Taylor’s brilliant single-string and slide guitar work. The outfit was a bit on the loose side but still rocked hard throughout. Taylor’s voice, which is pleasing if not technically adept, carried off some of his own best-known tunes to his loyal following and some other more widely-known material.

Taylor, best known as the 17-year-old wunderkind of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers in 1968-69, replacing Peter Green who departed for Fleetwood Mac, or as the ideal replacement for the fired Brian Jones in the Rolling Stones, giving that band one of its most accomplished lineups, is now in his early 60s and bit more rotund than that slim, young, baby-faced guitar player from what was a magical time for blues musicians. But he seemed happy, ready to please and rocking throughout his group’s set, showing alternately tender and fiery musicianship as he soloed frequently. (continue reading…)

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