Tag Archive for Friday Afternoon In The Universe

Pre-Bear Creek 2011: Medeski Martin & Wood / DumpstaJam Prequel in ATL

I’m going to start my Bear Creek Music Festival coverage with some pre-fest festivities from Thursday, November 10, in Atlanta, GA. I started the evening at the Variety Playhouse with my 47th Medeski Martin & Wood show. The opening act was a blues band called Scrapomatic featuring Kofi Burbridge on vocals as a special guest for the entire show. Kofi has a silky smooth voice and the tunes were playful blues numbers. However, after the first 30 minutes, people got antsy. The vibe was a little too relaxed for the restless crowd that was starting to pour in.

MMW started their all request set with two tunes from their classic 1995 album, Friday Afternoon In The Universe: The Lover > We’re So Happy. Between these two songs it sounded like Billy was teasing Moti Mo (one of my friend Greg and I’s requests for the evening). My video of We’re So Happy starts out a little rough with some heads in front of me, but about 3 minutes in the people in front of me let me step up to the front and film the song with a clear view. You can view the video below.

After a brief acoustic detour into Duke Ellington territory on Acht O’Clock Rock (with an interesting John Medeski mellotron section), the band slid into a third song from the Friday Afternoon album, Last Chance To Dance Trance (Perhaps). This was a very long and expansive version, clocking in at around 18 minutes long including an acoustic piano section and an illyB drum solo. They closed the set with a tambourine and melodica infused version of the old New Orleans mardi gras song, Tootie Ma Is A Big Fine Thing.

Medeski Martin & Wood – We’re So Happy, Feelin’ Good (with Col. Bruce Hampton) 11/10/11 Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse:

The second set began with a sit in by Col. Bruce Hampton on vocals, which you can watch above. Next was 25 minutes of sublime, groove-oriented, improvisation. You couldn’t ask for more, but we got more. The improv segued into a drum and percussion solo, which segued into another rarity: Sequel (also from the Friday Afternoon album).

John Medeski then topped off the set with a soft and sweet rendition of Everyday People by Sly & The Family. For the encore, Billy Martin announced that they would be playing a song from their “20” release. When crowd members asked the name of the song, Billy told them they would have to buy it to find out, since there were some “profundities” in the title. The name of the tune: Fuck You Guys.

I never got my Moti Mo or Chinoiserie requests, but I did get plenty of other Friday Afternoon songs, as well as a Duke Ellington fix, so no complaints here (well, except my complaint that Kofi never joined the band for a flute down…). However, I can confidently say that this blew the Chicago show out of the water and has to be in my top 5 MMW shows.

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As soon as MMW ended, we headed straight to The Masquerade to catch Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk. We arrived just as the opening act, Orgone, began breaking down. I was glad we hadn’t missed Dumpstaphunk, and I knew I would see Orgone the next day at Bear Creek. (Shout out to Sergio for putting me on the guest list!)

Attendance was sparse as Dumpstaphunk hit the stage around 1am, and the band used this show as a warm up for their two upcoming Bear Creek sets. This was my first time seeing them with new drummer Nikki Glaspie and I came away knowing that she is more than capable of filling Raymond Weber’s shoes, while also bringing some added energy to the mix.

They played several new songs: Fame (a David Bowie cover), If I’m In Luck I Just Might Get Picked Up (a Betty Davis cover in which Nikki sings), Blueswave (which has been played only a few times since August of 2010), and Water (a Graham Central Station cover) (presumably this was the first time it has been played live, since they had lyrics sheets out and they had been in the studio days before this show). (FYI, Water was also the set closer Sunday night at Bear Creek with The Shady Horns.)

Near the end of the show, Nigel Hall, Ron Johnson, & Terrence Higgins showed up after their gig with the Warren Haynes Band at the Tabernacle finished. For the set closer, Meanwhile, Nigel Hall joined on keys, freeing Ivan Neville to jump on guitar. And for the encore we got a DumpstaJam prequel: Tony Hall & Nick Daniels sat out. Nigel Hall was on keys and vocals, Ivan and Ian stayed on guitar, Terrence Higgins got behind the drum kit, Ron Johnson took Tony’s bass, and Nikki got on Nick’s bass. They started with a slow and brooding version of Sly & The Family Stone’s Babies Making Babies then segued into Nigel’s Nick Daniels impersonation on Turn This Thing Around, then into a slow and playful version of Put It In The Dumpsta. Clearly these guys don’t take themselves too seriously and were just playing around for their own amusement, as the encore is kind of half-assed and tongue in cheek. It’s still cool to watch though….

DumpstaJam Prequel – Encore (1 of 2) with Nigel Hall, Ron Johnson & Terrence Higgins: Babies Making Babies (Sly Stone cover) > Turn This Thing Around > Put It In The Dumpsta 11/10/11 Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade:

DumpstaJam Prequel – Encore (2 of 2) with Nigel Hall, Ron Johnson & Terrence Higgins: Babies Making Babies (Sly Stone cover) > Turn This Thing Around > Put It In The Dumpsta 11/10/11 Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade:

Dumpstaphunk – Fame (David Bowie cover) 11/10/11 Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade:

Dumpstaphunk – Blueswave (new song) 11/10/11 Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade:

Dumpstaphunk – Water (Graham Central Station cover, first time played) 11/10/11 Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade:

Dumpstaphunk – If I’m In Luck, I Just Might Get Picked Up (Betty Davis cover) 11/10/11 Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade:

Dumpstaphunk with Nigel Hall – Meanwhile 11/10/11 Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade:

Medeski Martin & Wood – 20th Anniversary Tour hits Chicago

Medeski Martin & Wood brought their 20th Anniversary Tour to Chicago’s Park West last Friday, November 4th. To celebrate 20 years, the band has been playing a first set of fan requests, and calling the second set a “shack party” full of spontaneous improvisations.

SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEOS

For the first set, the band opened with the super rare tune Shack from Friday Afternoon In The Universe (a tune that hasn’t been played live since 2003!), which segued into a super charged Pappy Check (my request) that included an illyB drum solo before a funky bridge section that only MMW could pull off.

Next was an oldie that tends to get played pretty often, Dracula, which I thought brought the energy down. But, hey, I don’t question these players. Next up, John brought the energy level way up by tearing into his Wurlitzer electric piano on I Wanna Ride You, somehow making it look effortless to play like he does.

I was surprised to find that another one of my requests made the cut, Toy Dancing. Not played live since 2006, this version was somewhat exploratory and expansive. At this point, something happened that I’ve noticed frequently in MMW sets: John looks up about 3/4ths of the way into the set and realizes that he hasn’t touched the acoustic piano yet, so he sits down and goes to town for over 6 minutes. By the time Billy & Chris reel John back in, the tune ends up over 12 minutes long.

Lastly, they closed the first set with the perennial crowd favorite, Bubblehouse. Bubblehouse was played at every show on the first leg of their 20th Anniversary Tour back in March and so far has been played at every show on this leg of the tour. After years of fans screaming for the song and years of the band neglecting to play it, perhaps out of spite, MMW decided to give the crowd exactly what they asked for: BUBBLEHOUSE!

SET TWO: Improv, Moanin’, Improv
ENCORE: Night Marchers

You can watch set two right here, although I cut off the first 15 minutes of improvisation, as it wasn’t very inspired. This video includes the second 15 minutes of improv, the Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers / Bobby Timmons cover, Moanin’, the next 23 minute improv (including a dubby section with John on melodica, as well as another short illyB drum solo), and the encore, Night Marchers.

Parts of the video are shot with a second camera (actually my iPhone 4) from up front and the audio was recorded by taperjoe with Sennheiser E914 condenser mics (audio download available here). Stream this baby to your HD TV, pop some popcorn (or gather whatever other party favors you choose to partake in), sit back, and enjoy 52 minutes of MMW in awesome HD quality.

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If you’re looking for more tasty Chris Wood bass playing, check out these videos of The Wood Brothers I shot this summer at Headliners in Louisville, KY on June 2, 2011.

Postcards From Hell:

Sing It Again (Beck cover):

Atlas:

The Luckiest Man:

Shoofly Pie, Chevrolet: