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Phish NYC After-Parties!!!!

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Well, we’re less than a week out from Phish New Years Eve, the first time most of their fans have seen them since summertime. We have high expectations of this run, and I’m sure Phish will do their best to satisfy our cravings, especially considering their lack of scheduled tours in 2012. Hopefully because of this, they’ll throw down extra hard at New Years and deliver three outstanding shows. 

I’m sure there are still a handful of people worried about tickets, and it has not been pretty out there. Some of us lucked out in the lottery, others miraculously found success during the first on sale, and still others were clued in enough get it on the re-release they announced through Twitter. If, like myself, you don’t fit into one of those categories, there is still hope for us! Stubhub, as we well know, is not an option. Kids, please, I implore you to stand up against scalpers and do not succumb to those obscene prices. Craigslist is a valuable option if you scour the site, but again, be wary of scalpers. If you’re not a member of Cashortrade.org or Phantasy Tour, you should become one; these online communities foster inter-phan trading and selling for face. If you are a part of the aforementioned platforms and do have extras, please, be considerate of your extended phamily and sell it for face+fees. 

That’s enough instruction from me; it always works out with Phish, so hopefully I’ll see you all in there. Let’s skip to the after-parties though, because there is a ton of amazing music happening in NYC after MSG herds us out of there. On Wednesday, I recommend checking out the Hiro Ballroom for Stevem Kimock. Only 2 subway stops or 16 bocks from the Garden and see master musicians Steve Kimock, Bobby Vega, Bernie Worrell, and John Morgan Kimock. This leading guitarist has shared the stage with countless rock gods and even made an album with the Dead’s lyricist Robert Hunter, but on 12/28, he’ll just be doing some old school jamming. On this superb evening, he has invited his bassist of many years and of Sly Stone, Bobby Vega, known for his picking and bassthumping style. Bernie Worrell, “the wizard of woo” on jazz and funky keys, is also on the line up; he’s a founding member (and was musical director) of Parliament/Funkadelic and later in his career, played with the Talking Heads on several tours and albums. If that’s not enough, you’ve also got John Morgan Kimock, Steve’s song and the other half of Exter vs Kimock, drumming the night away, a sound you will not want to miss. You can make it a VIP occasion, dip in for the regular $25.00 ticket, or try to win tickets on Facebook, but either way, they’re saving the goods for after the show, so head down there right around 11:30 to catch it all.

 None of these choices are going to be easy, but on Thursday, we have a selection of 3 different after-shows to choose from.  Marco Benevento will be tearing up the Highline Ballroom in his very unique, post-rock kind of way. His wild and fascinating compositions make his live performances as crazy and exciting. It would be the cherry on top of your 29th, but don’t forget about the downtown scene that night. Sullivan Hall offers Yellow Dubmarine, the reggae tribute to the Beatles, and right around the corner, you can get your Dead and Phish on with Reckoning at Kennys Castaways.

Friday has us facing another 3-way battle for after-party glory; this time Dead against Dead, against original. Sullivan Hall, the intimate venue that normally hosts smaller, lesser-known bands, will find itself overwhelmed with the crowd that flocks to 7 Walkers featuring Bill Kreuztmann.  For just $30, you can get up close and personal with Billy, Papa Mali, Kurt Joseph, and Matt Hubbard and listen to some phenomenal covers and originals. And while you’re down in that neighborhood, you should check out Twiddle, the newest jam band from Vermont to make waves on the scene. These young guys’ original orchestrations gained them instant recognition by pushing the limits and breaking the boundaries, so if you’re going down for 7 Walkers, be sure to drop in for this band as well. Then again, if you’re staying closer to MSG for the night, head just a few blocks up for The Dead Sessions featuring the Vermont All-Stars at B.B. Kings- they’ve had very special guests play before, so who knows what the night before NYE could mean!

Finally on Saturday we have a super easy choice to make because there is only one choice, and that’s Wyllys and the New York Hustler Ensemble, which sounds like a killer option to me. Featuring Jennifer Hartswick and Natalie Cressman from Trey Anastasio Band, insane guitarist Scott Metzger, and other special guests, this is bound to be a phenomenal after-show. Every show at Sullivan Hall during this run is catered to phans coming down after Phish (special thanks to CEG Presents for coordinating that), but this one in particular is going to be for us. Riding that New Years Eve high, everyone at Sullivan Hall will be raging to some serious funky jams and crazy, dance-party improvs.

 To see all your options in plain sight, visit phishafterparties.com. They’ve got each show and ticket information all in one place, so grab any tickets early to save on door price and guarantee your spot. Thank goodness these tickets aren’t quite like Phish ones, and good luck to all those who still need to secure the party party. See you at the after parties for sure. 

Wormtown Music Festival Review

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For most of us, September marks the end of summer. For some, it means no more dancing in sweltering hot fields, sleeping on the ground, or eating hotdogs. No more Jerry Roll, no more dollar beers on lot, and no more 2 am sets- at least until next summer.

While there are still a lot of good music festivals going on, the cap on my festival season is Wormtown. Hosted by Wormtown Trading Company at tiny Camp Kee-Wanee in Greenfield, MA, this festival takes place in the middle of September, right when it starts to get chilly at night. With two small stages next to each other, and 2 more in the woods, plus 2 cabins hosting the late night scene, it’s a weekend long party that helps kick start a dedicated fan base for small-time bands and musicians.

People were trickling in all day on Friday, setting up camp in the woods and throughout the campgrounds. Everywhere you looked, there were streamers, ribbons, signs, anything else you could hang from a tree, and hundreds of happy campers excited to be there. The first heavily attended show on the main stage was Zach Deputy’s first set of the evening, which had the energy and enthusiasm our Friday night needed. Wormtown was the first festival Zach ever played and to see him grow popular enough for 2 Friday night sets is an exciting thing for the Worm family. He delivered a danceable, but quick set, ultimately a tease for what was to come.

Hot Day at the Zoo was another Friday night highlight. Their progressive bluegrass style is a pre-packaged dance party, and the four-piece has an eclectic energy that fuels their live performance. Each of Hot Day’s songs are well rounded, with a stand-up bass that roots them, and mandolin and banjo parts that create waves of excitement. It doesn’t hurt that the guitarist and harmonica player (who sat in on drums for a few songs) has this raspy, emotion-filled singing voice, and is really easy on the eyes. Unlike many bands, they all sing with completely unique, yet blend-able voices, allowing them to take traditional bluegrass to a higher, and more amplified, level.

JT Lawrence from Hot Day at the Zoo

Michael Dion of Hot Day at the Zoo

The late night scene was largely dominated by The Brew, who is just wildly good at their instruments and so fascinating to watch up close, and to close the night, Sauce. Had they been scheduled a little earlier, there may have been a bigger draw, but their funky beats and sexy melodies kept the 4 am crowd dancing into the morning.

Yarn took the main stage around 1 pm on Saturday to kick off the day with another energetic bluegrass set. Then the festival-goers had to chose between The McLovins and the Zach Deputy Super Jam, which was not an easy choice in my opinion. To catch a little of each didn’t do either justice, but nevertheless, The McLovins impressed with tight and fancy jams from a group of 15 year olds. The Super Jam was also a wildly skillful moment of music making, where Zach Deputy was leading the crew, but by no means overtaking it. The exploratory jams flowed organically and weaved into spontaneous songs featuring Wormtown chants.

Shakedown’s 4:20 set was finally the touch of Dead this event needed. Maybe it’s due to the overwhelming presence of Further and/ or Dark Star Orchestra at most of the festivals I attended this summer, but I felt that this festival was seriously lacking in Grateful Dead music, so thankfully Shakedown came in to resolve that issue, and resolved it well- my Dead craving was quite satisfied, although with no particularly memorable covers.

The main event of Saturday was Max Creek, and while he always plays a great set, I wanted to take that time to hear the multitude of new bands performing in that same slot. Wolfman Conspiracy was a standout set, with a prominent horn section and a reggae-rock vibe that you don’t find often. Each song was a bit different, and instead of it coming off as a band with an identity crisis, they seemed multi-faceted and dynamic.

The Phreaks were also absolutely stellar. As a Phish cover band, they are attempting something that may be a little presumptuous, being that the band still tours actively, and while they won’t get to DSO status, it’s immensely impressive that if you close your eyes, and they’re just jamming, it really feels like being at Phish show. Their sound is so big it blew the fuses on the smaller stage multiple times, but their set kept people hanging around. They were playing amazingly replicated covers of Phish’s most technical songs, from “Reba” to “Tube” to bust-outs like “Mike’s Song>Gumbo>I Am Hydrogen>Weekapaug Groove.” Truly, for Wormtown, epic. And if you think no one can play like our boys, well… these guys can and do. To a tee.

One of the first bands to play on Sunday morning was Fundimensionals, with a 10 am set on the RiverWorm Stage. A surprising amount of people made it out, and regardless of the power problems that the Phreaks also experienced, they plugged in the generator to rage a full set. Fundimensionals have an energy to their music that doesn’t compare to many other acts. With each song comes a new journey, and you don’t have to be a genius to follow along. Many bands who are using synth effects and doing “jam-tronica” are a little hard to keep up with because their jams are so advanced and moog’d out, but Fundimensionals produce innovative electro-rock songs that even the least-savvy music listener can enjoy.

Closing the festival was another Wormtown staple, Ryan Montbleau Band. The perfect way to cap off a Sunday, RMB played a mellow but inspiring set that allowed for Ryan’s lyrics to be the highlight. More than lyrics, his poetry seemed to resonate with everyone in the crowd, from 5-year-old girls to 50-something biker dudes, all singing along. Truly, Ryan’s lyrics are unmatched in the jam band scene and his band is the perfect supplement. Careful not to overpower, they linger patiently in the background until their time to shine, when Ryan may even step off stage momentarily so the focus is truly on the sick lead guitarist, funky bassist, seamless drummer, and smiling pianist.

In it’s 13th year, Wormtown Music Festival was again a success. It’s a great opportunity for new bands to break into the scene, for up-and-coming artists to get the support they need (and to repay their loyal fans with intimate sets), and for the Worms to come together as a family again. See ya next year, Wormies!!

Note: more pictures to come!!!