A section for us to recommend some music a little off the beaten path...

Rich Robinson's Flux - 7/15/17 (from Bruce)

Rich Robinson is certainly most well known as being the principle songwriter and mostly rhythm guitarist in The Black Crowes. He put out a handful of solo and side projects, but his last album Flux is just stellar. The songwriting and instrumentation are wonderfully quirky without getting too out there. You'd be just as likely to hear a Mellotron as a vintage guitar, and the mix on this album is simply glorious. Whereas albums by the Crowes were generally recorded pretty dry and in your face, Flux is infused with heavy doses of reverb and tasty delays, perhaps not something that jumps out on first listen, but there is a treasure-trove of ambient morsels to further discover through repeated listens.  


Ryley Walker - 2/14/16 (from Bruce)

I see Ryley Walker as a blend of folk musicians like John Fahey and  Nick Drake as well as Astral Weeks-era Van Morrison. Although his album releases are quite enjoyable, I simply can't get enough of his live performances that have sprung up on YouTube, especially when he is accompanied by other musicians. Album-wise, I would recommend Primrose Green. Its title track was the first to catch my attention.

Kevin Gilbert - 12/23/14 (from Bruce)

Kevin Gilbert seemed destined for greatness. He put out a handful of solo and band discs, worked for some big pop and prog bands such as Keith Emerson, Spock's Beard (anyone?...anyone?), Madonna, and Michael Jackson as musician, engineer and/or producer, was the guy who brought Sheryl Crow into the real Tuesday Night Music Club for which the album was based, won a songwriting Grammy for the same album, and was then unceremoniously dumped both as a boyfriend and a band member once Sheryl broke big (check out this for much of the story). On his manager's way to Kevin's house one day to let him know that he garnered an audition for the post-Phil Collins Genesis, Kevin was discovered dead from auto-erotic asphyxiation. Phew.

Kevin's solo music meandered through many genres, but much of it hung in the 80's pop vein. What set him apart from the rest of the herd was his brilliant songwriting, multi-instrumental genius, and quirky sense of humor. I would start with his posthumous concept album The Shaming of the True, but I would make time to listen to it in a single sitting.

Bobby Lee Rodgers - 6/21/14 (from Bruce)

Bobby Lee Rodgers at age 23 was one of the youngest professors ever to teach jazz at the Berklee College of Music, joining Pat Metheny among those ranks. Perhaps more importantly, he fell under the spell and tutelage of one Bruce Hampton.  The Colonel-as Bruce is called-had the dubious honor of creating the worst selling album in the Columbia catalog (right behind an album of yoga instruction). His philosophy of Zambi involved removing the ego to find your true self. In Bobby Lee's case, simple song structures often give way to outside improvisation. A tune may begin with James Taylor or Johnny Cash simplicity, but it very well land in the avant garde world of Ornette Coleman or Sonny Sharrock. Like Steve Kimock profiled earlier, Bobby Lee Rodgers allows the trading of his live shows (over 100 of them are archived here). His studio offerings are reined in from his live shows and are-I would assume-more palatable for most. I would begin with his album Overdrive, but it is sadly out of print. Instead, let's just dive in with a live show from January of 2010.

Jaco Pastorius - 3/16/14 (from Bruce)

Francis Anthony "Jaco" Pastorius III started generating a buzz in south Florida through local jazz, funk, and RnB gigs during the early 70's while still a teen. He scored the bass chair in Wayne Cochran's CC Ryders and shorty thereafter, went from local legend to playing with Pat Metheny, Al DiMeola, Weather Report, and Joni Mitchell (all within a matter of 2-3 years). His influence can still be heard today, whether it be his use of fretless electric, harmonics, chording, speed, his gorgeous tone, or his harmonic movement. Unfortunately, Jaco had bipolar disorder, and near the end of his life, he was abusing alcohol and drugs and was often homeless for weeks at a stretch. He eventually died in 1987 after an altercation with a bouncer at a venue. He was only thirty-five.  If you're a fan of jazz, you have probably already heard Weather Report's Heavy Weather or his first "proper" solo album simply entitled Jaco Pastorius. For me, his most lyrical work will always be with Joni Mitchell. Hejira is probably more accessible, but I still prefer Don Juan's Reckless Daughter.

The Wood Brothers - 1/11/14 (from Bruce)

Medeski, Martin, and Wood have been a staple on the jamband scene since forming in the early 90's.  Their brand of acid-jazz groove music has gotten many a rear end a-bumpin' on festival fields through the years. In the mid-2000's, bassist Chris Wood hooked up with his brother Oliver and formed a band not-so-surprising titled The Wood Brothers. Their rootsy Americana sound and infectious songwriting has gained them some degree of notoriety, especially with their release The Muse. I find it perfect Sunday morning or hang-around-outside music. The Museum of Oddities covers three of their songs currently, and it wouldn't surprise me if that number increased as time goes by. 

The London Souls - 9/23/13 (from Bruce)

I may alienate some of you with this next choice as The London Souls are loud, brash, edgy, and noisy...and I love them. This band has all the early 70's girthy Ampeg bass tones (actually played above the 5th fret) and "thwacka-thwacka" drum fills one can imagine. Lead singer/guitarist Tash Neal was almost killed in a hit and run atrocity in New York City.  It's miraculous that he is even alive much less put out the high energy shows in which he does. Did I mention they were noisy? Grab their eponymous debut album The London Souls, which was recorded at famed Abbey Road Studios.

The Tedeschi/Trucks Band - 8/13/13 (from Bruce)

Some music just smacks of integrity.  Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi each had successful bands and parallel career trajectories. The husband and wife were even pitted against each other for a Grammy in 2010 (Derek won). They then tested the waters together with a mostly summer live band called the Soul Stew Revival. From that genesis, they folded their respective bands and grew an 11-piece behemoth from the ground up. In this day when artists can't make much money off of CD sales due to downloading, who takes an 11 piece band on the road? Using Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen as well as Delaney and Bonnie's large bands as blueprints, they mix soul, rock, funk, and jazz, putting Susan Tedeschi's voice front and center. I would begin with their Grammy-winning debut Revelator.

Alice Coltrane - 7/14/13 (from Bruce)

I would hope that every fan of music is at least somewhat familiar with John Coltrane, but his second wife Alice deserves some of the spotlight as well. Playing both harp and piano, Alice Coltrane's best work evokes an almost mantra-like repetition with regard to rhythm (sometimes accompanied by tamboura), allowing herself and horn players (most notably Pharoah Sanders and to a lesser degree Artie Shepp) to sprinkle their brand of goodness over the top. Her best work began a few years after the death of John in 1967. I would start with an album that's perfect Sunday morning music: Journey in Satchidananda - 1970.

Steve Kimock - 3/16/13 (from Bruce)

Touted as one of Jerry Garcia's favorite musicians, Steve Kimock and his musical offerings tend to ebb and flow rather than hit you over the head. He is a wonderfully lyrical guitarist who keeps the majority of his chops held in reserve.  His first band of note was Zero, part of the post-psychedelic scene in San Francisco.  He then was involved with at one time or another KVHW (with Ray White of Zappa fame), The Steve Kimock Band, and Crazy Engine (with Bernie Worrell of Parliament Funkadelic and Talking Heads fame).  Kimock also dabbles heavily in the Grateful Dead family tree, having performed with The Other Ones, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Vince Welnick, and Bruce Hornsby.

His shows are freely (and legally) tradedCheck out this link. to download/listen to shows from the Steve Kimock Band, this link to download/listen to shows of solo gigs, this link to download/listen to shows from KVHW, this link to download/listen to shows from Zero, and this link to download/listen to shows from Crazy Engine.

Phil Keaggy - 1/9/13 (from Bruce)

A few years back, I went on a two day road trip to see a Phil Keaggy concert in a church that sat a couple hundred or so, the price of admission being a bag of non-perishable food items.  Quite simply, it was one of the best shows I've witnessed. Phil is a Beatles nut, so he certainly knows what makes a concise tune, and yet he was in Glass Harp, an archetypal rock and roll jamband, so he can improvise till the cows come home. He's also one of the few guitarists who have distinct electric and acoustic styles (Steve Howe, Eric Johnson, and Jack Pearson also spring to mind).

During his solo performances, he uses loop pedals to great effect for both vocals and his acoustic.  He often sneaks the loops in and out, sometimes harmonizing melody lines or chord stacking.  When the overt religious messages in his vocal tunes get to be a bit over the top, I switch to one of his many instrumental discs. The Master and the Musician tends to be his most heralded instrumental album.  If you'd like a taste of what he is like as of late, try Live in Kegworth, and if you want to hear him in the context of a ripping 70's rock band, try Glass Harp: Live at Carnegie Hall.

Michael Hedges  -  11-26-12 (from Bruce)

Back in the day, my parents had a small record collection that included Jackie Gleason's Orchestra (yes, that Jackie Gleason), Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass, and Ray Conniff.  Luckily, I had two older brothers who steered me in somewhat more revolutionary directions. Having said that, my parents scored with several musical gifts that had a great influence on me.  In addition to purchasing  my first electric guitar (a sunburst Ibanez Artist AR-300), my mother bought two import CD's from Shakti with John McLaughlin, and Dad got me Blow by Blow by Jeff Beck as well as Aerial Boundaries by the late Michael Hedges.  I'm sure that Michael Hedges cassette sat for a while, but when I finally got around to popping it in the player, it just floored me. Here was a guy playing solo acoustic guitar, oftentimes sounding like three people at once.  Most importantly, it was musical and deep.  Aerial Boundaries is where I'd start, but if you can't hack a listen sans vocals, I'd go with Watching My Life Go By.

Jack Pearson  - 
11-18-12 (from Bruce)

People familiar with me know of my boundless love for The Allman Brothers, a band who melded rock, country, folk, psychedelia, blues along with jazz-inspired improvisation.  Not too many bands can slap that on their resumes.  In 1997, Warren Haynes and the late Allen Woody left to pursue Gov't Mule full time, and in their stead arrived monster bassist Oteil Burbridge and Jack Pearson.  In addition to being a fine singer and songwriter, Jack quickly became one of my favorite guitarists.  He can play down-home blues on a National steel, blistering electric slide, Wes Montgomery-influenced jazz, or tear your head off with a conventional solo, all with soul and taste.  His album Do What's Right is a good starting point for him.

Darrell Scott  -  11-9-12 (from Bruce)

I first discovered Darrell Scott while he was a member of Robert Plant's incredible Band of Joy.  He sang, played guitar, mandolin, pedal steel, and bouzouki.  He also plays piano and lap steel, is an award-winning songwriter, and is a gifted improvisor (both on his chosen instruments and vocally).  Of the 100's of artists I have seen live (might be past 1,000 by now), an intimate solo theater gig in Duluth, GA by Darrell ranks at the top.  It pains me when folks like Travis Tritt or the Dixie Chicks stir in their brand of over-produced mediocrity to tarnish his songs.  My current favorite release of his is Live from North Carolina.  Hefty amounts of quality improvisation continue to leave me slack-jawed every time I hear it.