Shining Brightly - Dark Star Orchestra In San Diego

John Kadlecik of the Dark Star Orchestra

report filed 11/29/01 7:48 pm, pdt - The past few weeks have been action packed here at Anytime/Anywhere Studios. We received some great new CDs and caught some outstanding live music. And now that our highly trained staff is flush with new experiences that might be of interest, it's time to balance out the reporting side of the music journalism equation.

Let's work backwards. The most recent show to rock my world was the much anticipated performance by the Dark Star Orchestra at the '4th & B' in downtown San Diego. I've heard lots of good things about DSO and when I found out they were swinging through SoCal, I made it a point to see for myself what all the hubbub is about. And I'm glad I did. These guys really do tap into some of the same energy that the Grateful Dead conjured onstage.

For those of you unfamiliar with DSO, here's the premise: unlike most Dead cover bands, who noodle around between songs trying to figure out what tune they are going to play next, much like the Dead themselves, DSO recreates actual Dead shows in their entirety. Thanks to all the taping and archiving of Grateful Dead concerts over the past three decades, set lists from almost every performance over their twenty-five plus year run are readily available, and DSO picks one out and jams the bojangles out of it.

The show I saw was a little out of the ordinary for a couple of reasons. For starters, DSO was joined by a very special guest, Vince Welnick. Most of you will remember Welnick from his days with the Dead, playing keyboards during the band's final few years. Old school rockers will also recall his role as a founding member of the seminal glam band, The Tubes. Hey, whatever your point of reference, just having Vince onstage was a treat!

Vince Welnick and Scott Larned of the Dark Star Orchestra

Another interesting twist to the show was the absence of Rob Eaton, DSO's rhythm guitarist. Eaton is on a month long break, taking some time off to record tracks for another project. So rather than perform a Grateful Dead show, DSO treated us to a Jerry Garcia Band show (specifically 2/5/81, Lehigh University), to match their one guitar lineup. And that was fine by me. I'll take a dose of Jerry anywhere I can get it! Gotta hand it to Kadlecik on guitar - not only does this guy have Jerry's sweet tone and melodic attack on the guitar, his voice is the most Jerry-esque I've ever heard! It was a joy listening to Kadlecik sing some of my favorite JGB tunes - How Sweet It Is, Catfish John, Dear Prudence, That's What Love Will Do - too name a few...

John Kadlecik

Bottom line: the Dark Star Orchestra is an authentic representation of what Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead's music were all about... DSO is currently on tour and if you get the chance, be sure to check 'em out!!

Deadline Friday is a new San Diego band quickly making a name for themselves with well crafted songs and an energetic, two guitar sound. Had the pleasure of catching these guy's third public performance last week at Winstons and was impressed not only with the music, but also the strong turnout for this count-our-number-of-gigs-on-one-hand early stage of DF's development as a group. Speaking of which, DF ain't too shabaroo at this point in the program.

Jim Diez and Chris O'Meally of Deadline Friday

Mike Spurgat

Bill Coomes

DF has a knack for melody and some nice onstage chemistry. Looks like these guys are gonna be active on the local scene, so we'll put 'em under heavy binocular and keep you posted as they develop...

Although it now feels like forever ago, our hardworking production caught another fine show from John Brown's Body, a few weeks back at Winstons. We've featured JBB several times here at the website and every time we cross paths with JBB, they deliver some ultra tasty roots reggae. And their most recent visit to San Diego was no exception. By now the word is out here in Ocean Beach about just how good JBB is, so in an attempt to deal with the excessive demand for tix at Winstons intimate confines, JBB was booked for both Friday and Saturday nights. And it was no surprise that the place was packed for both!

Kevin Kinsella and David Gould of John Brown's Body

Christopher Welter, Lee Hamilton and Alex Beram

Nate Silas Richardson and Christopher Welter

Alex Beram

Like most of the bands we spotlight, JBB is usually on tour, and we highly recommend that you go see them when they pass through your town... nobody lays down fatter, swankier grooves than the soulful singers and players who collectively refer to themselves as John Brown's Body.... NICE!!

Kevin Kinsella

We are happy to report that the perserverence of our in-house tech crew has paid off and our lo-tech scanning hardware is once again up and running. So here we go with yet another round of:

These CDs Don't Suck!

Charlie Hunter - Songs From the Analog Playground

Charlie Hunter's new release on Blue Note Records, Songs From the Analog Playground, is all about textures. More accurately, polytextures. Listen to the first few seconds of the first track and you'll get a glimpse into what the undisputed master of the eight string guitar is up to these days - exotic percussion and vocals. That's right vocals. Sure, there's plenty of Hunter's understated fret work here. And yeah, the tenor sax of John Ellis (not to be confused with Hunter's former saxman Dave Ellis) creates an array of wonderful interactions throughout, one moment soloing with an adventurous melodicism over Hunter's sublime rhythm work, the next painting the overall soundscape with pastel tones of brass. And that's the type of magic Charlie Hunter is known for. But there's more. In a departure from Hunter's usual 'all instrumental' mode, eight of the Analog Playground's thirteen tracks feature a lead vocalist. Actually several. Mos Def, Theryl De'Clouet, Norah Jones and Kurt Elling all get two songs each. And each contributes a different texture. Def brings an edgy bohemianism, De'Clouet a bit of smooth voodoo (particularly on a mesmerizing version of the Willy Dixon classic 'Spoonful'), Jones oozes silky sex appeal and Elling's post bop inflections are pure jazz. While hardcore Charlie Hunter fans might need a few listens to warm up to all the vocals going on here, there's no question that Songs From the Analog Playground is an artistic success showcasing some of Hunter's most compelling work to date.

Vic Wooten - Live In America

Everybody knows Victor Wooten is one of the most amazing musicians on the planet. As bass player extraordinaire for Bela Fleck, Wooten's jaw dropping chops are the backbone of the Flecktone's Grammy winning sound. Wooten pops funk, gurgles fusion, pulses space and shuffles grass like nobody's bidness... ain't nothin' Victor Wooten can't do. And on Live In America, a new double live CD on Compass Records, he proves it. Enlisting his brothers Regi on guitar and Joseph on keyboards, as well as JD Blair on drums, and a few guests including Bootsy Collins, Wooten shines as a confident and charming frontman. The guy is clearly having fun. And so is the rest of the band. Musically, the vibe here ranges from good time funk, sultry R&B and socially conscious soul to metal psychedelia, ambient space and raging exhibitions of chops. Oh yeah, all the players sing! Most of all though, the sense of humor and exuberance that jump off Live In America are infectious. If you're looking for a healthy dose of audio exhilaration, this is the CD for you!

Dr. John - Creole Moon

Nobody has a more distinctive voice than Dr. John. Nobody. And on Creole Moon, his new release on Blue Note Records, the good doctor is in top form, rolling out one gravel laced velvet carpet of New Orleans hospitality after the next. Unlike the legendary night tripper's last outing, Duke Elegant, a tribute to Duke Ellington, Dr. John returns with fourteen new, original compositions, celebrating his longstanding love affair with the 'Crescent City.' He says as much in the liner notes. And that's one of the keys to Creole Moon. This is a concept album. The cover art is exceptional and reflects the New Orleans theme. It's all explained in Dr. John's extensive notes, a delightful packaging bonus including his take on the album and inside info on each song. Even if the music was mediocre, Dr. John's insight would make Creole Moon a 'must have' for any self respecting hoodoo guru's record collection. Have no fear. As previously noted, Creole Moon finds Dr. John in top form. He's singing strong and soulful while playing piano with the playful grace of a born again honky tonk saint. Creole Moon is vintage Dr. John!!

Meanwhile back at the word factory: we've posted a pair of short features on the Single Malt Band from Colorado, and a group out of Texas called LARRY, for your reading pleasure.

Unfortunately, due to time's unforgiving insistence on moving forward, there's a number of CDs we had hoped to include in this update that just ain't gonna make the cut. If all goes well, we'll post additional CD reviews on an ongoing basis to this current journal entry featuring the Dark Star Orchestra, as well as a notice on the website's front 'splash page' when new CD reviews have been added. So please check back soon for all the latest, as our adventure in music journalism continues...

"Shirt Pattern"