Archive for the ‘Andrew Wyatt/Disco Santa’ Category

Pearl Jam

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Pearl Jam

XL Center – Hartford, Connecticut

May 15, 2010

Contributing Writer – Garret K. Woodward [TheRFW.com/blog/Garret]

Contributing Photographer – Andrew Wyatt [TheRFW.com/blog/DirtySanta]

www.PearlJam.com

It’s just one of those things.

Embarking on their 20th year together, grunge-rock legends Pearl Jam sauntered their way into Hartford in search of a reunion chalked full of melodic sound and unrelenting passion with those who know them better than anyone- their dedicated fans.

Wine bottle in hand, gracious frontman Eddie Vedder swung around the microphone stand with an overzealous swagger that never seems to get old even though the man himself is cresting into middle age.

Pearl Jam by Andrew Wyatt | XL Center – Hartford, Connecticut  |May 15, 2010

“It’s a little bit early to be breaking microphones,” he said after knocking down the stand. “But, I guess it’s going to be one of those nights.”

Always the political thorn in the sides of injustice with his rebellious remarks and socially conscious lyrics, Vedder commands a loyalty (as seen during “Do The Evolution”) unmatched in the rock industry. He is the last vestige of what rock and roll truly means and what ways one’s power can be used for progress and change- instead of personal gain and excess.

Playfully consuming the wine and lighting a cigarette, he wanders around the sides of the stage during “Even Flow”. While the band merged the tune into an eardrum-busting jam session (Stone Gossard and Mike McCready are still two of the most underrated guitarists in the scene), Vedder salutes each section of the arena with the bottle, casually talking to fans in the front row and pointing to those (with an endless grin) in the nosebleed tiers.

Pearl Jam by Andrew Wyatt | XL Center – Hartford, Connecticut  |May 15, 2010

This is the essence of Vedder.

What he represents to Generation X is what Mick Jagger represents to the Baby Boomers. It is a musician who you grew up with, a musician who is at every juncture of your life, for good or ill, with a welcoming musical handshake.

By waving and smiling at those who shared in the ups and downs of the last two decades, Vedder gives the listener a piece of mind, almost as if saying, “damn, we’ve been through a lot, and there is still a lot more to go, but here we are and we’re going to be alright, for tonight at least.”

Soccer moms smoking joints. Football dads drinking beers. The “forever young” feeling echoing throughout the performance (“Dissident”, “Jeremy”, “Alive”) is a testament to the emotion the group conjures so seamlessly. The audience looks to the band as an outlet to a world they once knew, they once felt they could conquer, but now a dusty memory hanging on a living room wall.

It is not a nostalgia thing, rather a continuing quest by Pearl Jam to showcase the innocence and reality of a world sometimes lost in its own frantic pace and inconsequential priorities.

Hushing the raucous venue, “Just Breathe” caused a lump in my throat. My eyes began to slightly water. I thought of my (now ex) girlfriend- a soulmate no matter the outcome of our lives apart or together. The acoustic beauty was our song in a once happy relationship, now only visible in my memory. Each verse evoked innumerable images in my mind of a girl who will always have a firm grip on my heart.

Pearl Jam by Andrew Wyatt | XL Center – Hartford, Connecticut  |May 15, 2010It is another piece of the Pearl Jam catalog in which we have applied to a certain corner of our lives. It is another crossroads in the existence of those onstage and in the crowd where we not only look back on the past, but also push forward to the future with the confidence bestowed upon us night after night by five guys from Seattle.

Set I:

Unthought Known, Corduroy, Do The Evolution, Got Some, Severed Hand, Dissident, Low Light, Amongst The Waves, Even Flow, Nothingman, Johnny Guitar, I Got Id, Jeremy, Daughter / W.M.A., Satan’s Bed, Lukin, Gonna See My Friend

Encore I:

Just Breathe, Speed of Sound, State Of Love And Trust, Ain’t Talkin ‘Bout Love, Porch

Encore II:

The Fixer, Crazy Mary, Alive, Indifference, All Along The Watchtower

Flaming Lips New York

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

The Flaming Lips

Barton Hall – Cornell University

Ithaca, New York   Apr. 18, 2010

Contributing Writer : Garret K. Woodward [ TheRFW.com/blog/Garret ]

Contributing Photographer : Andrew “Dirty Santa” Wyatt [ TheRFW.com/blog/DirtySanta ]

Special thanks to leesmommyishot for the YouTube video!

www.FlamingLips.com

www.MySpace.com/FlamingLips

Giant hands shooting out laser beams. Jacuzzi sized disco ball. Teardrops. Laughter.

Everyone’s first live experience of The Flaming Lips can be visually different. Yet, each performance conjures the same exact emotion and conclusion- happiness and the possibility of attaining self-realization (even when you weren’t seeking it at the time).

Strolling the hilly landscape of the picturesque Cornell University campus, Ivy League silence and etiquette was shattered by the joyous shouts of a costume brigade bumrushing Barton Hall- a venue sacred in Grateful Dead lore for the legendary May 8, 1977 show.

Dressed as bacon, Pippy Longstocking, or one’s favorite superhero, troves of Flaming freaks milled about in an effort to get as close to the stage (and lead singer Wayne Coyne) as possible.

Immediately handed a laser pointer upon entrance (the giver ran by with a psychotic grin, tossing the tiny electronic devices at whoever got in his way), I took refuge in the upper level seats towards the back of the gymnasium (now used by the institutions ROTC program). I wanted to encompass the entire scene from above.

The houselights dimmed. An indescribable array of strobe lights, unidentified blinking objects, and red dots (that maniac sure got around) overtook the stage. But, just as my eyes were adjusting to the initial shock, the backdrop illuminated with a naked women dancing. The screen starlet shook what her mama gave her, eventually lying back as a huge beam of light emerged from her digital vagina.

One by one, members of the psychedelic rock entity emerged from the enormous genital tractor-beam. Piercing screams and murderous shouts deafened the arena when Coyne rolled out of the vagina and into the crowd within his trademark “human gerbil ball”. Tumbling around the audience like being tossing into a washing machine, Coyne toppled and fell- a smile never leaving his face.

“We don’t want to say we’re going to top the ’77 show tonight,” Coyne said, leaping out of the plastic ball. “But, for damn sure we will be the second best show to ever play here.”

CONTINUED AFTER THE JUMP/PHOTOS

Coyne takes you down his own version of the hypnotic river in Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. He zigzags across the stage, jumping up and down, encouraging everyone to participate and immerse oneself in the moment- a dizzying sight that would even tire the relentless antics of Mick Jagger.

The group sprinkles a magical stardust of new (“Silver Trembling Hands”), old (“She Don’t Use Jelly”), and somewhere in-between (“The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song”) throughout the production.

Signature confetti guns exploded into the rafters. Giant rubber hands (worn by Coyne) shot green lasers into the disco ball- glittering chaos around the entire space. Footage of gyrating women streams behind the quintet. Old film from television appearances, and clips from the band’s music videos, introduces each subsequent melody.

The entire room became silent (and fingers held up in the “peace sign’) during “Taps” (a traditional military instrumental), where Coyne condemned conflicts abroad and hoped for a bright future amid mankind.

A campfire sing-along soon surfaced. Giving a taste of their recent endeavors (“Brain Damage”/”Eclipse”), the band spewed a beautiful interpretation of Pink Floyd- an ode to those who light the fuse Coyne now keeps bright.

Tearing up, the singer spoke of personal loss and the beauty of those whom you come across along the journey of life. A poignant ending, “Do You Realize??” encouraged the release of any tension or remaining energy from both sides of the stage barrier- a never-ending showcase of innocence and emotion until any and all were completely drained, yet fulfilled spiritually.

And that, my friends, is the true essence of The Flaming Lips.

FLAMING LIPS – BARTON HALL – Apr. 18, 2010
The Fear, Worm Mt., Silver Trembling Hands, The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song, In The Morning Of The Magicians, Vein Of Stars, I Can Be a Frog, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, See The Leaves, Powerless, Pompeii Am Götterdämmerung, Taps, She Don’t Use Jelly, Convinced Of The Hex

Encore I:

Brain Damage, Eclipse

Encore II:

Do You Realize??

Green Mountain State of Mind

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Green Mountain State of Mind

Apr. 10 – Scott Tournet / Joshua Panda with Ian Thomas Band (Nectar’s – Burlington, VT)

Apr. 11 – Sam Amidon (Hooker-Dunham Theater – Brattleboro, VT)

Contributing Writer : Garret K. Woodward [ TheRFW.com/blog/Garret ]

Contributing Photographer : Andrew “Dirty Santa” Wyatt [ TheRFW.com/blog/DirtySanta ]

www.BluesAndLasers.com

www.JoshuaPanda.com

www.IanThomasMusic.com

www.SamAmidon.com

Apr. 10 – Scott Tournet / Joshua Panda with Ian Thomas Band (Nectar’s – Burlington, VT)

The crisp early spring breeze cascaded off Lake Champlain.

The ferry chugged along towards Burlington, Vermont. Behind me, the quiet city of Plattsburgh, New York- surrounded by the majestic peaks of the Adirondack Mountains. The ice of a frozen winter was long gone. All that remained was a never-ending blue sky and a weary land emerging from the depths- ready to bloom into the inevitable beauty only attained by Mother Nature.

Sunshine trickled into the dusty vehicle. We franticly sped into the Queen City.

Nectar’s, a renowned New England music venue (birthplace of Phish and one-of-a-kind gravy fries), played host to rock guitarist Scott Tournet (Grace Potter & The Noctunals / Blues & Lasers) and soul sensation Joshua Panda w/Ian Thomas Band.

Filled with freewheelin’ hipsters, weekend warriors, local transients, and tourists checking out what Fromer’s recommended, the Nocturnal channeled his inner Bad Blake with a stripped down, casual, yet heartfelt, show of talent and hunger he relentlessly seeks.

It’s refreshing to see Tournet (who was later joined onstage by another Nocturnal- guitarist Benny Yurco) left vulnerable to the crowd- without all the attention focused on Ms. Potter. Standing alone, his true power as a leading ax-man (an acoustic player) comes full-circle.

Old material (“Sitting Here Too Long”) and fresh ideas from the forthcoming Blues & Lasers album surfaced. Handclaps and manic whistling followed each offering. It was a tranquil evening. One of those rare nights where a musician bares his soul in front of those who know him best.

On the flip side of the coin, subsequent act Joshua Panda made girls wet and men jealous with envy. With the gyrating hips of Elvis Presley, the attire of Jake Blues, the roar of Sly Stone, and the sweaty, glorious passion of James Brown, Panda evokes a sensation in our legs scarce in the art of modern music.

Serenading his girlfriend (“Still Crazy About Rue”), raising his Zappa freak flag, and tackling barrel-chested blues classics (“Wang Dang Doodle”), it is quite a sight to witness firsthand. Backed by the alt-country blues meltdown that is the Ian Thomas Band, it is a force to reckoned with.

As if taking on this Simon Says or Pied Piper persona, Panda commands the audience in a language universal to any- music. The jacket comes off and soon he takes on this John Belushi energy between his stage antics and hypnotic control of the listener (at one point he had the mass of people split in two, in an effort to see which side of the floor could sing-along louder). You simply cannot avert your eyes.

If Grace Potter is the Soul Queen of Burlington, then Joshua Panda is King.

ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THE JUMP/PHOTOS!

Apr. 11 – Sam Amidon (Hooker-Dunham Theater – Brattleboro, VT)

I awoke on the floor in an apartment I did not recognize. It took me a moment, but sanity was discovered. Friendly faces arose from sleepy corners and warm covers.

Time was of the essence. The aging Honda puttered down I-89 South. We were ahead of schedule- a beer at the Skinny Pancake in Montpelier was in order.

Sipping the Switchback ale, clear skies once again greeted Vermont. Dirty Santa held his beverage high- saluting the day.

Entering the Hooker-Dunham Theater, the 99-seat venue quickly reached capacity. It was a hometown performance for Amidon, the Americana wiz kid (who had just arrived from New York City, flying back to the States from London the day before).

Taking somewhat forgotten (“Wedding Dress”}, dearly cherished folk songs (“Cold, Rain, and Snow”) or completely random melodies (“Relief” by R. Kelly), he dusts them off. Interpreting them in his unique fashion.

Amidom immediately draws the listener in through note after haunting note on his acoustic guitar. Joined by jack-of-all-trades musician Shahzad Ismaily, the duo silences the audience with a blend of heartache, redemption, and progression through exploration of mankind’s wide spectrum of emotion.

Yet, just when you think there are two performers, the entire room is asked to participate in more than a few numbers. Singing, laughing, and remembering what it’s like to truly be moved by a piece of music (“How Come That Blood” / “Way Go Lily”).

The sound ricochets off the ancient stonewall lining the theater. The crowd, a mix of young curiosity and mature appreciation, smiles and, at times, tears up. One starts to think of people lost in their memories, not seen in ages, but conjured between the lines sung before us.

Sam Amidon is a human history book. With his captivating presence, he is a storyteller of the highest regard. Between his showmanship and clear conscience, he is a sparkling diamond amid the coalmines and rugged characters he sings not only about, but also for.

It is a lost art. One that Amidon harnesses and radiates to the world like a shining beacon of light to ships sailing the high seas of life.

Bluegrass Behind Bars

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Bluegrass Behind Bars

Hot Day at the Zoo in a Vermont prison

Contributing Writer : Garret K. Woodward [TheRFW.com/blog/Garret]

Contributing Photographer : Andrew “Dirty Santa” Wyatt [TheRFW.com/blog/DirtySanta]

Authoritative boots echo down the sterile corridor with an ominous tone. The cold concrete and brick walls are silent. Thousand yard stares from those caged behind bulletproof glass. Barbed wire lines the fences outside, while isolation and monotony lingers within.

The scene is reminiscent of John Belushi’s entrance in The Blues Brothers.

And like the memorable ending to the film, music amid the depths of those cast away from society reigns an ever-present reminder of the power of redemption.

Bringing their overzealous brand of bluegrass to a more than captive audience, Massachusetts ensemble Hot Day at the Zoo took a moment off the road to educate and motivate those in less than inspiring quarters last weekend.Hot Day at the Zoo - Photo #4 by Andrew Wyatt

On their way to the recent Snoe.Down Winter Music & Sports Festival in Killington, the Bostonian bluegrass brigade performed at the Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility in Rutland as part of an ongoing program within the prison to provide necessary skills and constructive hobbies for inmates.

Setting up equipment and going through soundcheck in the prison library, guitarist Michael Dion stops and looks around the space.

“You know, before coming here, the most unique place we ever played was at a Boy Scout camp,” he chuckled.

With around 140 people incarcerated on various felonies at a given time, the medium security facility creates opportunities through their onsite community high school- a place for any willing to take the next step in acquiring a proper education and make the most of time spent behind bars.

Of the numerous programs, music education is one of the centerpieces.

“Even though we are a correctional facility, we try to provide the students with a wide range of topics,” said John Cassarino, director of volunteer services. “We try to be creative in what we offer. Whether you are an inmate or a citizen, music can give you an mental escape and a positive outlet in society.”

Operating for over a decade, the program consists of two classes, each running a few hours a day. Up to eight participants can attend the music production class, where students can learn basic and advanced skills in the art of recording and producing. For a select, well-behaved few, a class on electronic manufacturing is also taught, which encompasses the technique, maintenance, and assembly of guitars and amplifiers.

“People from around the area send us their amplifier kits to assemble in our classes,” said Dennis Bonanza, music educator. “Once the students put the kits together, we send them back to those members of the community.

“The classes teach more than the titles suggests. It teaches teamwork, problem solving, respect, patience, communication, flexibility, and other skills these guys will need to survive.”

Hot Day at the Zoo - Photo #1 by Andrew WyattInviting local talent and regional acts passing through the area to perform in the library every so often, Bonanza sees the experience as a worthy endeavor for the prison and not something of a reward for those placed in their custody.

“These guys are vested into electronics and we are here to teach useful skills,” he said. “Personally, if I’m able to reach a handful of guys and maybe, just maybe, keep them out of jail for the rest of their lives, then it’s worthwhile for me.”

Walking single file into the library, a few dozen inmates find a chair and situate themselves in front of the band. The prisoners sit completely still and look forward, their faces weathered by a slow ticking clock. Unrelenting rays of sunshine filter through the secured doors, crossing the threshold and crashing down onto those seated attentively.

Quietly signaling the commencement of the performance, the group huddles around a lone microphone.

Merging folk, bluegrass, and traditional country, the rebel yells and string bombardment fill the ear with a cacophony of traditional numbers, and unusual classic rock covers (“Alabama Song”, “No Expectations“, “Foxy Lady“), accompanied by a plethora of original material (“One Day Soon”, “Blues for Jimmy”).

The prisoners are respectful and silent throughout. But, once the song ends, raucous cheers and a deafening howl soon follow.

“We don’t want to get you guys too riled up and in trouble,” banjoist Jon Cumming teases.

“You’re too late for that!,” one inmate yells.

“I’ll give you two soups for that mandolin,” another chimes in from the back of the room.

Following a few hearty laughs, the musicians explain the stories behind several melodies. Pointing to their instruments, they explain their approach and how they perfect the sound radiating from the speakers.

The set winds down with an ode to The Man in Black himself, Johnny Cash. “Big River” is received with foot stomps, hand claps, and jovial shouts- a surreal moment similar to the legendary 1968 performance at Folsom State Prison.

Serving 20 years to life for an undisclosed crime, Andy W. is an enthusiastic student in the program and has been playing guitar for 17 years.

“Being able to be in this program, to learn and also enjoy someone else’s music is a blessing,“ he said. “Learning electronics, building amplifiers, and assembling guitar pedals are all skills we can take with us to the outside.”

Packing up their gears and once again going through the proper phases of clearance for permission to exit the jail, Cumming watches the last of the inmates march back to their cells.

“It’s not everyday you get to play in front of such a riveted and receptive audience,” he said. “We mostly play rowdy bars where everything is so loud, but here they are listening to the words, watching us, and putting us on the spot to step up to the challenge. It’s great to be able to do something that is meaningful to them.”

“Music is always there for you,” Bonanza said. “It’s there when you’re sad. It’s there when you’re happy. It’s always there.”

Snoe.Down 2010 PT 2

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Snoe.Down 2010 PT 2 – The Moments

Spartan Arena – Rutland, VT / Killington Ski Resort – Killington, VT

Contributing Writer – Garret K. Woodward [ TheRFW.com/blog/Garret ]

Contributing Photographer – Andrew Wyatt [ TheRFW.com/blog/DirtySanta ]

Thank you nycjamgal08 at YouTube for the video footage.

www.moe.org

www.SnoeDown.com