The 50 Greatest Live Acts? What? No Prince?

Who doesn’t love a music list? After all, they make great clickbait, right?

Hype Music Festivals (who?) has just published its list of “the greatest 50 live acts right now.”

Conspicuously missing: The mighty, multitalented Prince, one of the greatest live acts of all time (not just right now; his show 20 years ago at the Sunrise Musical Theater was one for the ages); Bootsy Collins and other super-funky acts; Medeski Martin and Wood; any number of great New Orleans artists; and the fast-rising trio Dirty Loops.

Still, lots of great, groove-alicious high-performing acts on the list, including Galactic (from New Orleans), lately taking things to a fever pitch with new singer Maggie Koerner; the amazing, oversized Tedeschi Trucks Band, co-led by miracle-working slide guitarist Derek Trucks and his blues-belting wife and guitar slinger Susan Tedeschi (the band was hot, again, at the Sunshine Blues Festival); the astonishing collective Snarky Puppy; Blues Traveler; Further; Lettuce; the Punch Brothers (sublime at Springfest); My Morning Jacket; Umphrey’s McGee; String Cheese Incident; and Radiohead (naturally).

And, in the No. 1 spot … The Allman Brothers, probably extra smoking-hot these days because the clock is running out on the band.

Here’s the list.

As mentioned, the high energy pop-fusion-funk group Dirty Loops is one of the bands that should have made the cut:

Want to see The Dirty Loops live? The band’s new 20-city tour kicks off Oct. 21 at Irving Plaza in NYC. Details are here.

Derek Trucks at Tampa Theatre (concert review)

(Below is a review initially intended for publication elsewhere; photo is mine, taken at Bear Creek Music Festival)

Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi – Soul Stew Revival

derek1Dec. 29, 2008

Tampa Theatre

Listening to Derek Trucks unleash his bottleneck-slide lines on “700 Houses,” a slow, bluesy tune penned by guitarist-singer Susan Tedeschi, his wife and bandmate in Soul Stew Revival, it was difficult warding off chills.

Trucks’ playing, on the stage of an historic art-deco movie theater in front of a home-state crowd that has practically watched the former child prodigy grow up, again was sublime — simultaneously salty and sweet, stinging and gentle, an exquisitely conversant instrumental voice that has to be witnessed to be truly appreciated.

Trucks unleashed his fertile guitar improvisations throughout the long, satisfying set, presented by an oversized ensemble allying his band with Tedeschi, a three-piece horn section, younger brother Duane Trucks on second drum kit and sometime DTB member Count M’Butu on percussion.

The 11-piece group opened with “Talking About,” a blast of scorching blues-rock that leads off Tedeschi’s recent Back to the River CD. It offered a showcase of her newly mature, road-sharpened vocals and her own impressive six-string work.

So did the evening’s other tunes from that album — “People,” with organist Kofi Burbridge’s quick flute solo, and the R&B-grooving “Can’t Sleep at Night.”

The show, with Tedeschi mixing and matching with DTB singer Mike Mattison, also offered a preview of Trucks’ forthcoming sixth studio album, Already Free, including the rootsy acoustic-electric blues of the title track; the gospel-tinged “Days Is Almost Gone”; the slinky “Don’t Miss Me”; and “Down in the Flood.”

Trucks, who has day jobs with the Allman Brothers Band and his own group, frequently sits in on other artists’ performances — Lettuce, Soul Live, and Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk at the Bear Creek Music and Arts Festival late last year in north Florida — and recordings.

So it was pleasant, but no surprise, when pedal-steel wizard Roosevelt Collier of Miami’s Lee Boys joined in on Buddy Guy’s “Done Got Over You.”

Collier returned for the encore, a triumphant version of The Band’s “The Weight,” which made a perfect match with Soul Stew Revival’s appealing mix of blues, rock, and old-school R&B.

Soul Stew Revival set list

Talking About
700 Houses
Down In The Flood
People
Can’t Sleep At Night
Days Is Almost Gone
Get Out Of My Life
Already Free
Meet Me At The Bottom
Chicken Robber
Don’t Miss Me
Gonna Write Him A Letter
Hercules
Sugar
Pack Up Our Things And Go
Done Got Over You
I’ve Got A Feeling
Space Captain

Encore:

The Weight

Langerado: Hmmmm

I wrote this in response to a comment on my below post, and I thought I might as well give it its own post:

“It’s not nearly impressive as it could have been, and should have been.

As it stands now, I’m no longer sure that this will be a “must” on my 09 concert calendar.

For those (like me) interested in seeing great jam bands on the bill, the lineup at Bear Creek was far, far more impressive.

If I were running the fest, I would have included far more jam bands — MMW? Karl Denson? Robert Walter? Charlie Hunter? Galactic? The Motet? Lettuce? — plus at least one of the Dead-related bands, one of the Allmans-related bands, more altcountry, New Orleans acts, blues acts, and a jazz act or two.

And for the love of God, it’s in Miami: Why not more reggae and/or African acts? One or more of the Marleys? Femi Kuti? Thomas Mapfumo? Boukman Eksperyans? Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra? Chicago Afrobeat Project?

How about Latin jazz and Brazilian? Arturo Sandoval? Omar Sosa? Eliane Elias?

I could go on, but, in short … color me disappointed.

Bear Creek: The Afterglow

I’m still feeling the extra-sensory afterglow of the great music – and serene outdoors setting – I experienced at the Bear Creek Music & Art Festival, last month at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park near Live Oak.

One of the stars of the fest was a guy who wasn’t even officially on the bill. I’m talking about north Florida homeboy Derek Trucks. I’ve been watching and listening to the slide-guitar wizard since he was all of 11 years old or so, and making semi-regular treks from Jacksonville (with his dad/manager chaperoning) to play Skipper’s Smokehouse. Back then, I interviewed Derek several times for the Tampa Tribune, and I wrote a short feature on the six-string wunderkind for Guitar World magazine.

Was that the first story on Derek in a national mag? Not sure. But I do remember being very annoyed at how heavily the piece was edited. GW turned my story, on Derek and his music, into an extremely puffy piece about how “cute” it was to see such a little fellow carrying around that big guitar. Note to Derek: Don’t blame me for that.

At any rate … Word was that Derek was going to make a guest appearance or two, and I saw him pull up to one of the stages late Saturday afternoon. As it turned out, he applied those trademark sweet-and-stinging slide lines to several pieces during three sets – by jazzy soul/R&B outfit Lettuce, New Orleans keyboardist Ivan Neville and his Dumpstaphunk outfit, and high-energy organ trio Soulive. My pix of Derek, on this post, are from his performance with Lettuce. So is the above YouTube video.

The guy is a natural, of course. Not that we need reminders after all the great work he’s done leading his own band, and playing with the Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, and Susan Tedeschi – Derek’s wife and an impressive blues guitarist and singer in her own right (more about her in a forthcoming post).

The Robert Walter Trio, led by the former Greyboy Allstars B3 organist/keyboardist, played one of my other favorite sets at Bear Creek. Walter, with great New Orleans bassist James Singleton (Astral Project) and new NOLA drummer Simon Lott, dug deep into various strains of jazz, funk, and, of course, Crescent City rhythms (check out my pix of Walter and Singleton).

The tunes were drawn, in part, from Walter’s new Cure All, with Singleton and Johnny Vidacovich, the other half of Astral Project’s rhythm section. I caught the group playing an evening set at Preservation Hall during Jazz Fest week this year (saxophonist Donald Harrison sat in), and I recently covered the CD for Las Vegas City Life. Click here to read the review.

I spoke with Singleton after the set, and in addition to gifting me with his gorgeous sounding string-quartet CD, Gold Bug Crawl, he told me that he is in the process of moving back to New Orleans, after a long post-Katrina residency in Los Angeles. It will be great to have such a vital part of the NOLA music scene back in the mix there.

Sunday morning, my friend Lennie and I ran into Walter near one of the concession stands, and he told us how big a fan he is of Derek – the musician, and the man. I’m guessing that it’s something of a mutual-admiration society.

As mentioned in an earlier post, my full review of Bear Creek will be published in the coming months in Relix magazine.

Meanwhile, check out these other reviews of the fest:

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