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Album Review: Lotus’ “Gilded Age”


Our favorites, Lotus, have released an album that treats us to yet another facet of the constant development of their sound. While it may not be as experimental as “Monks,” or as poppy as “Build,” the emotion they’ve captured in “Gilded Age” segues nicely from their 2013 releases. At the time, “Build” and “Monks” both seemed to mark a turning point in Lotus’ sound, shying away from the American rock vibe by gearing their focus towards the electronica aspect of the band. With these albums, I lost touch with what I knew to be the “original” Lotus vibe, which had more space and created a relaxed atmosphere in which their jams were extremely prominent. “Monks” was something almost completely new — reworked Lotus tracks were the basis of the album, over which featured hip hop artists like Ras Arcane and Doodlebug seamlessly delivered fresh lyricism. These tracks were punctuated with funky interludes that told the story of a journey to enlightenment. “Tune in. Drop out. Drink up.” Earlier in the year, “Build” had been released, and I do admit, it wasn’t my favorite Lotus album. It got me nervous that we would be getting more and more of the “EDM” feel from them, losing their rock n roll vibe, and focusing on popular aspects of electronic music, rather than focusing on the jams. Not to say they didn’t play out the tracks in a live setting—they absolutely did, and in different ways from before (something that stands out to me is one of Jesse’s synth solo at their 12/30/13 show during “Middle Road”). I guess I’m speaking more from an “in-studio” aspect when I say this album made me a little nervous because live Lotus has yet to let me down.

Now, I’m realizing I was wrong to think those albums were a turning point in their sound. I just had to wait patiently, and upon the release of “Gilded Age,” I feel that this album is the real turning point. As I said, “Build” and “Monks” seem experimental—albums to have fun with, to push their boundaries, and develop their skills. Now, I feel like Lotus is sort of returning to their roots, giving themselves much more breathing room for improvisation, while clearly still being influenced by where the last two years have taken their sound. With this album, they find balance, and their delivery is so smooth. I think I like the execution of this album so much because of the way they recorded it—live to analog tape, so it has the feeling of them playing right in front of you.

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Gathering of the Vibes 2014 Festival Preview


From July 31st – August 3rd, the 19th annual Gathering of the Vibes will be bringing together an impressive roster of bands to Bridgeport, CT.  It will be the 10th summer at Seaside Park, only an hour and a half drive from New York City or a short ferry ride from Port Jefferson on Long Island.  The park has 3 stages, Main, Green Vibes, and School of Rock, as well as a tent for the Silent Disco. This year they have Stanley Jordan (guitar virtuoso) as an ‘Artist At Large’ and will have Primate Fiasco (impromptu street party band) and Funky Dawgz Brass Band (10-piece high energy horns band) playing acoustic sets around the grounds. There are always great food and craft vendors as well as some non-profits with booths throughout the festival.

There’s a ton of great music, so here’s a rundown of what’s what for the inquiring festival attendee.

Thursday kicks off early at their Green Vibes stage.   Music starts at noon with Banooba (high energy NY jazz/reggae/funk/rock blend), Love Canon (bluegrass covers of 80s hits), and White Denim (Texas 4-piece playing american rock) leading all the way up to Rusted Root (world music mixed with jam-rock) who closes out the stage for the evening.

Main Stage starts at 4pm with Cosmic Dust Bunnies (New Haven, CT jamtronica) followed by Ryan Montebleau and Friends (featuring Marco Benevento and Mike Dillon playing rock and soul). Strangefolk (VT jams with an acoustic guitar) plays the sunset set followed by Dark Star Orchestra (Grateful Dead Tribute act) closing out main stage with their take on the music that sparked the concept for the festival.  A late night performance by Dopapod (metal/jazz with a side of jam) will end the music on Thursday.

If you weren’t lucky enough to get out of work for Thursday of Vibes then hopefully you can arrive in time for Twiddle (VT reggae/rock jamband) to take main stage at 11am on Friday morning. Once music kicks off at main stage it doesn’t stop, but if you have a chance during the short breaks you can catch some great acts at the Green Vibes Stage. David Gans (American musician and songwriter) and American Babies (Tom Hamilton’s American jam rock) and Nahko and the Medicine People (high energy spiritual healing music) are all acts to leave the barrage of main stage power for.

Friday at Main Stage lineup continues with Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass featuring Jeff Austin and Reed Mathis (bluegrass version of Grateful Dead classics), Trombone Shorty & Orleans Ave (high energy New Orleans brass band), Joe Russo’s Almost Dead (explosive and adventurous Grateful Dead tribute), and Slightly Stoopid (reggae/rock) will keep people moving during the daylight hours. The main headliners on Friday are John Fogerty (playing his own songs with a mix of Creedence Clearwater Revival) followed by Lotus: Talking Heads Deconstructed (a mix of Talking Heads, rock, and electronic jams).


With a lineup like that it might be hard to still be dancing by the late-night acts, but if you can still move, Deep Banana Blackout (CT 8-piece funk group) and EOTO (all improvised electronic jam duo) will take you into the wee hours of the morning. If you’re not feeling it at the Green Vibes Stage during the late nights you can walk down the beach to the Silent Disco where acts like Beam & Deam, Speakerbot, and Business Casual Disco will be making music (silently) until dawn.

For Saturday even more people will descend upon Seaside Park because Umphrey’s McGee (progressive jam-rock), Widespread Panic (southern jam-rock), and The Disco Biscuits (jamtronica featuring Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann of The Grateful Dead) are playing back to back once the sun goes down.

grateful biscuits

Before the main events of the night, Main Stage will feature Kung Fu (lethal funk), Leftover Salmon (heavy bluegrass), Rodrigo y Gabriela (Mexican acoustic rock duo), and Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros (indie folk troupe). Of course if one can find the time, Orgone (soul/funk/disco band) and Dumpstaphunk (New Orleans jazz/funk quintet) will be at the Green Vibes Stage.

Once Main Stage closes for the night you can head back to Green Vibes Stage for the late night dance party thrown by Digital Tape Machine (full band electronic music and Umphrey’s side project) and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe (soul-funk lead by saxophone). If those aren’t your style there’s always the Silent Disco where Risky Disco, ConnetICON, and Horizon Wireless will keep party going (extra quietly).

Sunday starts off strong with Maceo Parker (sax playing king of funk) but if you came to see the jambands you’ll want to be over at the Green Vibes Stage for The McLovins (eclectic CT jamband). If you can, stick around for Donna the Buffalo (americana fusion) and Band Together (bringing together musicians of GOTV for a set). moe. (progressive rock jamband) takes the Main Stage at 2pm, followed after by Ziggy Marley (reggae singer/songwriter) and Dispatch (acoustic rock trio) who close out the festival. There is no camping Sunday night.

All of this music is available with the 4-day ticket at $247 (w/ fees). But if you can’t make the whole weekend they offer single day tickets – $87 (w/ fees) for Friday and Saturday and only $62 (w/ fees) for Sunday. Single Day tickets won’t allow access to the late-night shows or the campgrounds. Of course there are also a slew of VIP options and some of those include Meet-and-Greets with the headliners (The Disco Biscuits with Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann or Dispatch).

For more information visit: http://gatheringofthevibes.com/


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Album Review: Chalk Dinosaur – “Passages”

    Passagesjohn-ohallaron-yiv-3-2009 It’s been a long time coming for twenty-five year old John O’Hallaron, singer/songwriter and solo music mastermind behind the genius moniker Chalk Dinosaur, and it would be a depravity to keep this guy’s entrancing work a secret any longer. O’Hallaron has created, recorded, and produced 9 consistently unique and equally praiseworthy albums since he first started making music 2007: Passages, his newest project, debuted on June 30th. Heavily influenced by the American experimental rock band Ween, Passages is the most stylistically diverse album released by Chalk Dinosaur yet. I sat down with the man and the myth of Chalk Dinosaur himself subsequent to the release of his album, and he shared some fascinating behind the scenes information with me. Continue reading


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Moonrise Festival Announces Complete Lineup

Moonrise Festival, coming to Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore next month, announced its complete lineup this week. The second phase of this truly stacked lineup includes Downlink, DrumSound & Bassline Smith, Michael Brun, Moon Boots, RJD2, Robert DeLong, Alex English, DesMcMahon and more.

Single day tickets are now available for this event. For a list of Phase 2 artists as well as a full lineup, click below.

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Album Review: ’68 – “In Humor and Sadness”

Less than a week after The Chariot played their final show in November 2013, frontman Josh Scogin began to tease a new project. Scogin teams up fellow Atlanta resident and ex Becoming the Archetype drummer Michael McClellan for his latest project, ’68. Continue reading


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Show Review: Fitz and the Tantrums @ Stage AE, 7/5/14


On a cool and balmy evening, Fitz and the Tantrums played an outdoor concert under the moon on Saturday at Stage AE. The place was packed from fence to fence. The band starts with an old favorite, “Don’t Gotta Work It Out”, and instantly everyone there was hooked. Other favorites played? “Breakin’ The Chains of Love”, “The Walker” and “Out of My League”. It all went too fast.

It was apparent that these cats have many more followers than they did 3 years ago, when I saw them at a free concert in Shenley Park.

I knew Fitz and the Tantrums would be big. They have successfully created a unique neo-soul, indie-pop music experience without merely recreating the past (but they do that too). Three singles over 2 albums in 3 years is very impressive in this day and age. Considering their genre of music, that makes it even more difficult.

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Photo Credit: Joshua Timmermans

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Festival Review: The Mad Tea Party Jam 2014

Driving up the narrow dirt road that led to Ashton Farms, I was actually squealing with excitement. I got through the check-in process right away, and immediately set up camp so that I could walk the grounds and see what Appalachian Jamwich’s The Mad Tea Party Jam was all about. The venue itself was small, but the way it was set up was perfect. Nothing was too far away from any other thing, making the farthest walk about ten minutes long. This was awesome for conserving energy and seeing as much music possible!

Photo Credit: Roger Gupta

Now, my favorite part about small festivals, hands down, is that you are amongst family the minute you get there. If you didn’t consider them to be so before, you definitely do by the end of the weekend. You see the same people raging the rail, walk past the same shuttle drivers reaching out for high fives, and the same kids showing off their pin boards. At smaller festivals, there’s a good chance of actually meeting the people behind the madness. The weekend of June 19th was made possible because of the Olmsteads, who graced the stage at the end of the weekend to send out their love and thanks to everyone in attendance. Taco and Elise put on a phenomenal festival, which could be seen in the shining eyes and smiling faces of the patrons, the vendors, the painters, the musicians–everyone–during all three days.

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