Saturday Music Interlude — Five from Mountain Jam 2015: Amy Helm, Lake Street Dive, Grace Potter, Hurray For The Riff Raff, and moe.

Op-tempo has minimized blogging as well as seeking out new music.  Thankfully, summer is music festival season which affords me the ability to catch up on the best of both new and tried and true talents that make the circuit.  Mountain Jam, which is held at Hunter Mountain Ski Resort just north of Woodstock, New York, was born in 2005 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Woodstock radio station, WDST.  Among the founders of the Jam is Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule fame, considered one of the greatest electric guitarists of all time.  Some of the highlights of the Jam include performances by Amy Helm & The Handsome Strangers, Lake Street Dive, Grace Potter, Hurray For The Riff Raff, and Moe., among others.

If the first artist mentioned seems to have a last name similar to a legendary member of The Band, it’s because Amy Helm is the daughter of Levon Helm.  Her voice is a beautiful instrument that evokes the blues, soul, and rhythm & blues.  I’ll have more to write about her in a future post of her own.  Here she sings one of the songs from her new debut album entitled “Meet Me In The Morning.”

I’ve written about Lake Street Dive in the past, and they have continued to build on the musical promise of their first recordings.  Their second album, Bad Self Portraits, which was released last February, was well received critically.  Here they are performing “Stop Your Crying.”

Grace Potter is a singer-songwriter/roots rocker who has been performing since 2002.  Her voice has often been compared to Bonnie Raitt, though her powerful instrument stretches itself to a singular place among the very best of classic female rock and blues singers.  She has appeared with bands as diverse as Gov’t Mule, The Rolling Stones, and The Preservation Hall Jazz Band.  Her new album, Midnight, was just released to rave reviews.  Here she is performing “Delirious.”

As with Lake Street Dive, I’ve written previously about the NOLA group Hurray For the Riff Raff and their excellent album, Small Town Heroes.  Here they are performing “I Know It’s Wrong (But That’s Alright).”  If you haven’t seen the tongue in cheek music video they recorded, check it out here.

Finally, moe. is a progressive rock band formed in 1989 in Buffalo, New York.  They started out playing local bars, graduated to performing clubs along the east coast, especially in New York, have opened concerts for leading groups over the years, and even played at Radio City Music Hall.  During the course of their history the membership of the band has rotated over the years, mixing experimentalism with improvisation.  Their sound involves extended prog rock jams and, occasionally, slightly off-beat musical explorations in Americana and psychedelia.  The band is also big hearted, initiating and playing at fundraisers for many good causes.  Overall, while the quality of the music is never lacking, their lack of cohesiveness and stability has kept them operating just below the radar, never fully making the jump to the mainstream.  In this way they remind me of Gandalf Murphy & the Slambovian Circus of Dreams, another band hailing from the Hudson River Valley, with their intoxicating Americana/Mummer/Hillbilly Pink Floyd sound.  Here is moe. in an outstanding jam with Warren Haynes performing “Opium.”


Saturday Music Interlude — Hurray for the Riff Raff Performing Look Out Mama

This group has been around since 2007 but–as with most worthwhile endeavors–took some time to build up some stream, noting small but notable successes along the way.  They caught the attention of Spin magazine at the beginning of the year and made a big splash at the latest SXSW Music Festival in Austin this past month.  The band is led by Alynda Lee Segarra, a Bronx native of Puerto Rican descent who left home at the age of 17 and settled in New Orleans.  Hearing her story alone caught my attention.  Then I heard the music.  It is folk, country, roots music.  It is music from the heart and it is no surprise that Ms. Segarra’s journey took her to New Orleans, the city where the soul of America resides: beaten, abused, milked, and exploited but refusing to die, to lay down, to quit.  This is America.  This is who we are and where we came from.  We are the mutts of the world, the ones no one wanted, the runts of the litter, the downtrodden and the poor, the cast offs, the survivors, the melting pot, (who if you cross us are a little dangerous), and we’ll not be defeated.