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Posts about Music

Gregg Allman plays the laidback old pro at the Pantages

Posted by: Jon Bream Updated: March 28, 2015 - 1:27 PM



After 40-some years and several personnel changes, the Allman Brothers Band are no more. That doesn’t mean that frontman Gregg Allman has retired.

He’s had an on-again, off-again solo career since 1973 that has involved countless sidemen (and even Cher, but we won’t go there).

Five months after the Allmans played their finale,Gregg brought his own group to Minneapolis Friday night at the Pantages Theatre. Despite the familiar sounding vocalist and repertoire, no one would mistake this group for the Allman Brothers. With only one drummer and one guitarist, the sound was thinner. Moreover, a three-man horn section added more of an R&B flavor.

The performance just didn’t have the duel guitar fireworks of the Allmans, the rhythm section didn’t swing like the Allmans and, frankly, Gregg’s voice was less forceful than in the past, though he hasn’t lost any of his grainy soulfulness.

In short, it was a professional but not particularly passionate performance.

Allman, 67, seemed to be pacing himself and didn’t really assert himself vocally until the final third of the 1 ¾-hour performance. And, for some strange reason, the well-respected B-3 organist played guitar on too many songs, including inexplicably “Whipping Post,” on which he allowed piano player Peter Levin to take a key solo.

The set list featured tunes from the Allman Brothers and Gregg’s solo career (“Queen of Hearts,” “I’m No Angel”). The crowd warmed to such ABB favorites as “Melissa,” “Soulshine,” “Dreams,” an impassioned “Midnight Rider” and the inevitable “Whipping Post.”

More reminiscent of Dickey Betts than Duane Allman or Derek Trucks, Scott Sharrard proved to be a versatile but never thrilling guitarist. (He’s also the band’s music director.) In the tradition of ABB’s guitar exchanges, he sometimes traded licks with either saxophonists Jay Collins or Art Edmaiston or trumpeter Marc Franklin, who seemed to be playing out of the side of his mouth.

The band was solid but never really got cookin' like ABB always did. (Does the fact that the frontman had to read the names of the eight musicians from a sheet of paper atop his B-3 tell you something?)

While it was nice to see Gregg and his long blond ponytail in concert in the Twin Cities for the first time since 2007 at the State Fair with ABB, there was a lyric from a Muddy Waters tune he performed Friday that seemed to sum up the evening: “I Can’t Be Satisfied.”  

Minnesota-made Preservation Hall album among Library of Congress inductees

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider Updated: March 27, 2015 - 2:35 PM

    It’s not often an album made in Minnesota winds up in the Library of Congress National Recording Registry. In fact, it’s only happened once: Prince’s “Purple Rain” earned the prestigious honor in 2012.

The second locally made album to make the cut earlier this week isn’t actually by a Minnesota act, but it just so happens to be by a group that performed in town Friday night at Orchestra Hall: the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Their 1964 debut album, “Sweet Emma and Her Preservation Hall Band,” was recorded live at the old Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. It’s one of the 25 records announced on the library registry Wednesday, alongside the Doors’ and Joan Baez’s debut, Radiohead’s “OK Computer” and Lauryn Hill’s “Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.”

That a group that’s now a New Orleans institution had to come all the way up to Minneapolis to make an album demonstrates how out-of-favor their old-school brand of Dixieland jazz was in the early 1960s. Allan and Sandra Jaffe opened their venue just off Bourbon Street in 1961 in an effort to “preserve” the music. Their house band was brought up to the Guthrie a few years later to record by local musicologist Harry Blackburn and a group called Minnesota Jazz Sponsors.

“"I'd say it's the band's most important and probably best-known recording," Ben Jaffe, son of Allan and Sandra, told the Star Tribune in a 2009 interview.

Now the leader and sousaphonist in the hall’s namesake band, Ben said his dad stayed up all night mixing the record after the show. Little did he know it would officially be recognized as a landmark recording by the U.S. Congress 51 years later. The album was also just referenced last year in a history lesson of the group/venue in the Foo Fighters’ HBO documentary series “Sonic Highway,” after Dave Grohl & Co. recorded there. A revival of it was arranged at the new Guthrie Theater in 2011 with Marcia Ball filling in for late singer Sweet Emma Barrett.

Alas, neither Allan and Sandra Jaffe, Sweet Emma nor any of the other participants in the recording are alive today to enjoy the attention. 

Ben Jaffe, left, and the rest of today's Preservation Hall Jazz Band lineup at their namesake venue in the French Quarter. / Photo by Danny Clinch

Ben Jaffe, left, and the rest of today's Preservation Hall Jazz Band lineup at their namesake venue in the French Quarter. / Photo by Danny Clinch

The Jayhawks belly up to demand for a live album

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider Updated: March 25, 2015 - 5:47 PM
Gary Louris during the Jayhawks' 2012 performance at the Minnesota State Fair. / Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

Gary Louris during the Jayhawks' 2012 performance at the Minnesota State Fair. / Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

They’ve reissued all their studio albums and put out both a greatest-hits and outtakes/B-sides anthology. Much like their fellow Twin/Tone vets the Replacements, though, the one thing the Jayhawks have never properly done is issued a live record.

That void may or may not be filled finally with the release of “Live at the Belly-Up,” a digital-only album from the Minneapolis alt-twang/folk-rock group due for release April 7 via via iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc. The recording was made back in January during the band’s latest tour behind reissues of their 1997-2003 albums.


The 20-song, 80-minute set was captured at the Belly-Up Tavern near San Diego. With the Jayhawks' permission, the club’s staff recorded the show as part of a series of recordings issued via their website, where it’s been quietly available since mid-February. It proved to be enough of a hot seller and high-quality recording that the group opted to bring it to a wider release.

“It’s a real crime, considering their reputation as a first-class live band,” Jayhawks archivist/wrangler PD Larson said of the lack of a proper live record. Their 2002 acoustic collections “Live at the Women’s Club, Vols. 1 & 2” are the only thing that came close -- issued on a small scale with raw (but charming) quality.

Larson said there are some but not many other high-quality live recordings from past Jayhawks eras that could be fodder for release. Among them: A collection done with a full-blown mobile recording truck at First Avenue in December 2003, during what were unspokenly intended as the band’s farewell shows. But trying to release any of these past recordings would be tricky on several business fronts.

I bet most hometown fans who saw the exceptional First Ave concerts (and goofier Turf Club show) last year with this lineup will consider the Belly-Up collection a great start. It features mainstay members Tim O’Reagan, Karen Grotberg and Marc Perlman behind Gary Louris, along with mid-era guitarist Kraig Johnson (of Run Westy Run and Golden Smog). Former violinist Jessy Greene, who joined in at First Ave, also drove down from Los Angeles for the Belly-Up gig. And Milwaukee openers Trapper Schoepp & the Shades helped out on the Golden Smog finale, “Until You Came Along.”

The other songs mostly come from the “Sound of Lies,” “Smile” and “Rainy Day Music” albums, but they did throw in “Waiting for the Sun,” “Take Me With You (When You Go),” "Settled Down Like Rain" and the Grotberg-sung country classic “Last Cigarette.”

Things went so well for this lineup of the band over the past year, there's talk of a new studio album also being in the works. But let's stick with this for now. Here’s a little promo video from the Belly-Up’s site for the live set.

See young Minnesota rockers Hippo Campus' performance on 'Conan'

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider Updated: March 25, 2015 - 10:01 AM
Hippo Campus tweeted this photo goofing around on the set of "Conan" on Tuesday. / Photo by Geoff Harrison, Thirty Tigers

Hippo Campus tweeted this photo goofing around on the set of "Conan" on Tuesday. / Photo by Geoff Harrison, Thirty Tigers

They came. They saw. They smiled. A lot. And so did most of us back home who knew just how quickly but how readily Hippo Campus made it to national TV last night. The Twin Cities-bred quartet performed its EP track “Suicide Saturday” on “Conan” Tuesday on only a couple days’ notice after impressing the show’s music booker during last week’s South by Southwest Music Conference.

“What a ride it’s been for this band, who just a few days ago were making the rounds at the South by Southwest music festival,” Conan O’Brien said in his introduction. The host did not mention that the members are only 19-20 years old and were about to start their very first tour Wednesday. The show’s TeamCoco team joked on their site before the appearance, “We like Hippo Campus so much, we’re starting a tribute band, Rhino University. We’re terrible, so you should probably just stick to Hippo Campus.”

Here’s the clip of their performance below, along with some of the clearly enthusiastic social-media postings they sent out from the show. The kids will be back in town April 3 to play the Varsity Theater on their tour with the Mowgli’s. They were also just announced as part of Lollapalooza's lineup on Aug. 1, after playing Lolla promoter C3's SXSW party last week.

McCartney, Metallica to top Lollapalooza 2015 lineup in Chicago

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider Updated: March 25, 2015 - 9:19 AM
Paul McCartney is swinging through the Midwest again this summer to play Lollapalooza following his Target Field show last summer. / Brian Peterson, Star Tribune

Paul McCartney is swinging through the Midwest again this summer to play Lollapalooza following his Target Field show last summer. / Brian Peterson, Star Tribune

Summer’s nearest mega-fest for Minnesota music lovers, Lollapalooza announced its 2015 lineup this morning with a pair of timeless giants, Paul McCartney and Metallica, and such recent breakouts Florence + the Machine, Sam Smith, Bassnectar, the Weeknd and Alt-J. The festival is once again scheduled in Chicago’s Grant Park the first weekend of August, this year landing July 31-Aug. 2.

Of special note for Twin Cities fans are some of the acts who have yet to announce local dates on their current tour itineraries, since some of the Lolla performers often spill over and book a Minnesota concert in the days before or after their big Chicago gig. Some of the likely contenders in that case include Florence, TV on the Radio, the Weeknd, Gary Clark Jr., Tallest Man on Earth (playing Eaux Claires in June) and Flying Lotus. Metallica appears to be playing it as a one-off/fly-in sort of gig and doesn't have any other U.S. dates booked, but you never know.

Only one Minnesota act made the lineup this year, the one that was just on "Conan" last night: Hippo Campus (playing that Saturday). Several of the new buzz acts were a big part of the fray we covered at last week’s South by Southwest Music Conference, for better (James Bay, BadBadNotGood) or worse (Stromae). The lineup announcement follows yesterday's reveal of the Outside Lands fest in San Francisco with Elton John, Mumford & Sons and the Black Keys.

Three-day general-admission passes for this year’s fest sold out even before the lineup was announced. Single-day tickets go on sale today at 10 a.m. through the festival’s site, where VIP passes are also available. Here's the day-by-day schedule:



Friday, July 31
Paul McCartney, The Weeknd, alt-J, Alabama Shakes, Kaskade, Dillon Francis, Gary Clark Jr., Flying Lotus, Hot Chip, The War On Drugs, Father John Misty, Cold War Kids, DJ Snake, Sylvan Esso, MS MR, Tove Lo, Glass Animals, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, First Aid Kit, DJ Mustard, James Bay, BROODS, MisterWives, What So Not, SZA, Jamestown Revival, Philip Selway, Young Thug, Coasts, DESTRUCTO, BØRNS, BADBADNOTGOOD, Mighty Oaks, Bear’s Den, Peking Duk, Black Pistol Fire, Spookyland, Gabriel Garzon-Montano, Kyle Thorton & The Company, The New Pacific, Daye Jack, The Pop Ups, Q Brothers, School Of Rock AllStars, The Jimmies, Mista Cookie Jar & The Chocolate Chips

Saturday, August 1
Metallica, Sam Smith, Alesso, Tame Impala, Kid Cudi, Brand New, Carnage, G-Eazy, Walk The Moon, Tyler The Creator, The Tallest Man On Earth, Banks, Chet Faker, Sturgill Simpson, Death From Above 1979, Toro Y Moi, Charli XCX, Django Django, Boys Noize, Delta Spirit, RL Grime, Givers, Ryn Weaver, Travi$ Scott, CAKED UP, Hermitude, Wet, HOLYCHILD, Catfish And The Bottlemen, Zella Day, Mt. Eden, Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas, SNBRN, Elle King, Beat Connection, Mick Jenkins, Raury, Jack Novak, Pell, White Sea, Hippo Campus, COIN, Danny Weinkauf, School Of Rock AllStars, The Jimmies, Mista Cookie Jar & The Chocolate Chips, The Helmets

Sunday, August 2
Florence + The Machine, Bassnectar, Of Monsters And Men, A$AP Rocky, TV On The Radio, NERO, Kygo, Twenty One Pilots, Nicky Romero, Marina And The Diamonds, FKA Twigs, Lord Huron, Gogol Bordello, Stromae, ODESZA, LOGIC, The Chainsmokers, Wild Belle, Twin Peaks, Angus & Julia Stone, George Ezra, Strand Of Oaks, MOON TAXI, Shakey Graves, Galantis, Night Terrors of 1927, Alison Wonderland, Circa Waves, DMA’s, Sheppard, Mako, Skylar Spence, The Wombats, Halsey, Lion Babe, Black Tiger Sex Machine, VERITE, JackLNDN, ZEBRA KATZ, The Lonely Biscuits, SirenXX, In The Whale, Atarah Valentine, The Pop Ups, Danny Weinkauf, Motown Pete, Q Brothers, School Of Rock AllStars


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