Reviews

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Downtown New York City saw the return of an amazing yearly musical event this past weekend, The Tree of Life Benefit. Created by music lover and activist Robert S. Rosman and his family, Tree of Life gathers big names of the metro jam scene and beyond to deliver memorable nights of collaborative music in an intimate setting. It all raises funds for Ferncliff Manor, a school specializing in the care and treatment of individuals with disabilities.

Almost 25 years after she took the nation by storm with her album, “Relish,” early 2019 finds seven-time Grammy nominee Joan Osborne touring the country performing “Songs of Bob Dylan.” And for one night only at the new Sofia Center for the Arts in Sacramento her show featured Jackie Greene, her former Trigger Hippy partner, fellow Phil Lesh & Friends alumni, and Sacramento-area nati

Seemingly everywhere during women’s month are festival line ups coming out that boast of over half of the acts are female. Efforts to see females represented and reflecting the true population of society are growing ever present in the hearts and minds of music lovers.  Will these festivals simply stretch out the current all-female bands available or will they continue to create an atmosphere that will be welcoming for new women musicians to join the party? As more and more women dominated acts grow to visibility, one such contender is Fox Crossing String Band.

It’s not often that venerable guitarist, composer, and bandleader Steve Kimock appeases his hugely loyal fanbase by giving into song requests. Not that Steve overlooks the folks who’ve gone to every damn show since the days of his heralded archetypal band Zero, but for the veteran artist, music is ever-evolving and never about looking backward or forwards.

ALO’s lucky 13th annual Tour d’Amour included a stop in Chico, Calif., in which the band offered an exhilarating illustration of its intelligent, crafty songs, and its extraordinary aptitude toward innovative improvisational instrumentation. “To surround Valentine’s Day, the tour is a celebration of LOVE – musically, communally, and in all of its many forms,” a recent band statement proclaimed.

John Mailander is skilled at crafting a story through music.  His latest release, “Forecast” has been a Godsend piece of mana in my playlist this winter. Something about this disc hit me at the right time and place.  This winter has been such a baptism of tribulation, the tempo matches my soul. It gives me peace and hope for carrying on through the ice. I don’t mind the cold.

Progressive bluegrass pioneers, the Infamous Stringdusters rolled into Eugene (Ore.), January 20, and lit-up the McDonald Theater with a typically brilliant performance. This fire-breathing, five-piece combo’s relentless determination to Dust damn near every town in the country has honed their live show into one of the most reliably “hot” tickets on the thriving jam-band circuit. Every set is a high-flying adventure.

While San Francisco has a rich history in live music, few independent venues exist outside of music group monopolies such as Live Nation, Another Planet, Golden Voice (owned by AEG), or SF Jazz. All politics aside, it’s becoming less common for a medium-capacity venue to operate independently, likely related to hugely inflated rent/operations costs and radius clauses. Just last week Great American Music Hall and Slims relinquished booking rights to Golden Voice and laid off its loyal longtime staff.

Lucinda Williams played the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Saturday night with the Drive-By Truckers. It was actually a triple bill with Erika Wennerstrom of the Austin based Heartless Bastards opening the show with a solo acoustic set. Lucinda Williams, backed by her multi-talented touring band Buick 6, followed with Drive-By Truckers closing out the evening.

Greensky Bluegrass has been busy winding their way through a huge winter tour and tending to their new baby, studio album All for Money, released on January 18. This tour has featured three different opening acts, a fun treat for fans that will see multiple shows. Some of us in Boston knew we wouldn’t want to miss a Wednesday at the House of Blues with Billy Strings warming up and we sure did need warming up, with snow squalls and frigid temperatures sweeping through at show time.

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