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.”