Remembering “A New Day Yesterday”

I first discovered Joe Bonamassa years ago in Atlanta where he opened for blues legends Kenny Wayne Shepherd & B.B. King. It was late in the afternoon on an airless summer day when Bonamassa and his two band mates hit the stage to perform in front of a sunlit and sparsely attended venue. Granted there were a couple of in-the-know die-hard Bonamassa fans (who probably bought tickets just to see him), but the rest of us were spread few and far between, hoping that the opening act was worth bearing the heat.

Joe Bonamassa - A New Day Yesterday Live I don’t want to get too wrapped up in reminiscence, but it turned out that Bonamassa’s performance was the most memorable aspect of the entire evening. The synergy between the three band mates was phenomenal, especially as they went from low tempo blues to fast paced, technically ludicrous solos. As a fan of blues-inspired rock (and rock-inspired blues), I knew I had stumbled on one of the preeminent creative forces in either genre. Even if you aren’t a fan of either, you might still enjoy seeing a live performance of “Don’t Burn Down That Bridge” – the closing track on A New Day Yesterday Live (2002).

I haven’t kept up with the band since that night so I can’t speak to their more recent releases, but there is something about that unique place and time that will never lose its magic. Try it out and see what you think!

Most Popular Post #6: EOTO’s Distinctive Take on Dubstep

It was almost two years ago that I was first introduced to dubstep at a concert in Austin, TX. Having not yet been a fan of electronic music, a buddy of mine took me to an EOTO show without explaining what to expect. It turns out that this first exposure to dubstep was not only mind-blowing in and of itself, but was also a unique experience within a rapidly growing musical genre.

EOTO Live with Kinetic Visuals

EOTO Live with Kinetic Visuals (B. Hockensmith Photography)

 The duo of EOTO, Jason Hann (drummer/vocalist) and Michael Travis (multi-instrumentalist), share a veritable passion for pushing musical boundaries. While they fall neatly under the umbrella of dubstep, their continued emphasis on exploring different musical traditions within that framework gives them a trademark sound. It’s not everyday that two musicians can incorporate elements of American blues and reggae into their electronica, all while overlaying vocals that flow seamlessly through recognizable raps of Grandmaster Flash, pop ballads of Beyoncé, and scat.

Travis on Guitar (B. Hockensmith Photography)

Travis on Guitar (B. Hockensmith Photography)

Yet perhaps the most impressive aspect of EOTO stems from their exclusive use of real instruments during performances. While Travis handles different strings and keys, Hann supplies vocals and a beat. Despite their highly synthesized sound, all of the various elements in an EOTO show stem from real-time mixing, remixing, and sampling of these live signals from their various instruments. This approach allows two people to play what would otherwise require a handful of competent musicians.

Travis on Lute &Hann on Drums (B. Hockensmith Photography)

Travis on Lute &Hann on Drums (B. Hockensmith Photography)

Simply put, their performances are unrivaled. While they have several studio albums, EOTO is better known for live shows which are 100% improvisational. (As they put it, their concerts lack both a script and a safety net.) Hann and Travis clock in at over 150 live shows a year – most of which are recorded and released as mp3 files. In addition to their music however, EOTO is also known for their incredible visual presence. They use an extensive array of lights, lasers, and custom 3D mapped projections to complement their improv. To kick off their recent “Bass Invaders” tour, EOTO debuted a custom-built lotus stage design to heighten the overall experience.

If you are interested, you can find more information about their upcoming tour dates at their website. In the meantime, it’s worth watching some high quality footage of a live performance in NC below. Turn it up and enjoy some whomp-whomps.

John Butler’s “Ocean” – An Allegorical Take on Life, Beauty, and Change

As a ‘thank you’ to his fans around the world for their continued support, guitarist John Butler recorded and released a special live studio performance of his most famous instrumental. It turns out that “Ocean” is not only a dynamic musical accomplishment, but it is an ever-expanding piece that chronicles Butler’s personal evolution both as a songwriter and an individual.

Because this song expresses through melody what Butler can’t in words, it offers an incredible insight into his growth over the last 14 years. Musically, the piece continually benefits from newly incorporated stylings and nuances. Alluding to its namesake, “Ocean” swells and dissipates in veritable waves of intensity from delicate fingerpicking to invigorated strumming. There are similar fluctuations in terms of tempo, but each variation flows seamlessly from one to the next. In that sense, there is nothing cerebral or calculated about this piece; it is purely emotive. Even the surprising integration of modern effects pedals and percussive tapping contributes to the song’s beauty without showboating.

Butler performing at the Beale St Music Festival in Memphis 2007 (image courtesy of Josh Mintz)

Butler performing at the Beale St Music Festival in Memphis 2007 (image courtesy of Josh                 Mintz of www.photosbyjosh.com)

Yet all musical characteristics aside, what is truly astounding about “Ocean” is the idea that a work of art can be dynamic. The piece has undergone dramatic transformations since it was first recorded in 1998, and will continue to do so as long as Butler is mindful of his own intrinsic development. All in all, the changing “Ocean” is a humble reminder that no one moment is more important than another. Rather, it shows that beauty is not a specific place, but a sort of overarching spectrum: an amalgamation of contexts, experiences, and incongruities that reveal the perpetual value of existence.

Be sure to check out Butler’s performance in the video above. You can also download a free mp3 version of the recording here, courtesy of the John Butler Trio. Enjoy!

Reminiscing & Retrospect – EOTO’s Distinctive Take on Dubstep

It was almost two years ago that I was first introduced to dubstep at a concert in Austin, TX. Having not yet been a fan of electronic music, a buddy of mine took me to an EOTO show without explaining what to expect. It turns out that this first exposure to dubstep was not only mind-blowing in and of itself, but was also a unique experience within a rapidly growing musical genre.

EOTO Live with Kinetic Visuals (B. Hockensmith photography)

 The duo of EOTO, Jason Hann (drummer/vocalist) and Michael Travis (multi-instrumentalist), share a veritable passion for pushing musical boundaries. While they fall neatly under the umbrella of dubstep, their continued emphasis on exploring different musical traditions within that framework gives them a trademark sound. It’s not everyday that two musicians can incorporate elements of American blues and reggae into their electronica, all while overlaying vocals that flow seamlessly through recognizable raps of Grandmaster Flash, pop ballads of Beyoncé, and scat.

Travis on Guitar (B. Hockensmith photography)

Yet perhaps the most impressive aspect of EOTO stems from their exclusive use of real instruments during performances. While Travis handles different strings and keys, Hann supplies vocals and a beat. Despite their highly synthesized sound, all of the various elements in an EOTO show stem from real-time mixing, remixing, and sampling of these live signals from their various instruments. This approach allows two people to play what would otherwise require a handful of competent musicians.

Travis on Lute & Hann on Drums (B. Hockensmith photography)

Simply put, their performances are unrivaled. While they have several studio albums, EOTO is better known for live shows which are 100% improvisational. (As they put it, their concerts lack both a script and a safety net.) Hann and Travis clock in at over 150 live shows a year – most of which are recorded and released as mp3 files. In addition to their music however, EOTO is also known for their incredible visual presence. They use an extensive array of lights, lasers, and custom 3D mapped projections to complement their improv. To kick off their recent “Bass Invaders” tour, EOTO debuted a custom-built lotus stage design to heighten the overall experience.

 If you are interested, you can find more information about their upcoming tour dates at their website. In the meantime, it’s worth watching some high quality footage of a live performance in NC below. Turn it up and enjoy some whomp-whomps.

Meshuggah – Dancing to a Discordant System

Hands down, the five members of Meshuggah are the unsung heroes of contemporary musical composition. Since forming in 1987, the band has become an irrevocable driving force behind extreme metal. And while their contributions are well recognized within their genre, they are one of the most important forces of ingenuity across all musical traditions regardless of personal taste.

Jens Kidman

Jens Kidman

Meshuggah has long since carved a niche for itself through a ceaselessly progressive approach to music. The band often experiments with insanely complicated polyrhythms and alternate tunings on custom-built eight-string guitars in an effort to keep their work untainted by convention. Yet while their music is technically complex, the creative drive is focused rather on writing songs that bring the listener outside of his or herself. In an interview, Mårten Hagström elaborates, “it doesn’t matter if something is hard to play or not. The thing is, what does it do to your mind when you listen to it? Where does it take you?”

Tomas Haake

Tomas Haake

Perhaps it is because they don’t entertain a mainstream audience that the progressive character of the band has been unwavering throughout the last 25 years. In lieu of worrying about sales, the core focus of the band lies in exploration – not only of each member’s creative capacity, but also the limits of what we define as music.

If you’re feeling adventuresome, check out the video below of their live 2010 performance of “Perpetual Black Second” in Tokyo and be sure to track down their recently-released LP entitled “Koloss.”

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...