I thought I needed to write this down so I could remember. These are my highlights of last year. In no particular order at all. -Ed.
Jam Cruise 10 http://www.jamcruise.com/2012/
I tried to write the week down and, I got up to the second day of the cruise. Jam Cruise is one of those experiences that is hard to write about. It is one part “vacation on a cruise ship,” plus one part mindblowingly wonderful music, plus one part sharing the boat with the funniest and most friendliest people. You make friends from second to second, laugh for 5 whole days and dance the night away. You stop at ports and play kickball or work/donate your time to worthy causes in beautiful islands, dive or rent boats, or you just suntan yourself on the beach, feet in the sand.
This experience is, for me and those who board the ship, bliss and contentment. It is quite beautiful to experience, and share.
New Orleans Jazz Festival http://www.nojazzfest.com/
Being my first Jazz Fest, and taking a crazy roadtrip from NYC to NOLA a day before the second weekend, needless to say, I was blown away. The Fairgrounds were during the day, including 8 or 9 music tents, not to mention the food at the stands.
It was hot and sweaty and it felt like “it-doesn’t-matter-cuz-we’re-in-New-Orleans-for-Jazz-Fest” fun. The late night shows were, hot and sweaty and oh my lord! crazy – we are in NOLA, in the town that doesn’t sleep, the Big Easy showing me how Easy it really is down south, and the music, the jams, the funk/jazz/in your face horns dancing music. Yeah. Wow.
Standouts: New Mastersounds at HOB, Neville Brothers closing out the Festival, Bruce Hornsby during the day, Dr. John, Warren Haynes Band at the fairgrounds, Warren Haynes playing with 7 Walkers the first night I went out, getting into a cab where it spits out soda cans in the back seat, the coffee from Cafe DuMonde, and the beignets, the cochon de lait, crawfish monica and the fried green tomatoes, the crawfish boil, seeing random buddies from NYC at 6am, feeling at home there. Oh, I want to go back this year badly. That was crazy fun!
Bear Creek http://bearcreekmusicfestival.com/
It was my first time at Bear Creek, and the beloved venue, Spirit of the Suwanee Music Park, was welcoming, open and magical for another throwdown of a party filled with music, funk, fun, dancing and laughing. Although those who have been for years say its called “Brrrr Creek” due to the weather, we happened to be lucky this year. It was not too cold. Or, maybe it wasn’t too cold for me as I live in NYC, and Bear Creek is in Florida. Those southerners have thinner blood than I do.
Catskill Chill: http://www.catskillchill.com/
Hidden away upstate New York, almost on the border of Pennsylvania is a little known festival called Catskill Chill. Well, perhaps the secret is out, as tickets were sold out this year, and cabins are already sold out for next year. Besides the tornado warning and the septic backup, no one cared about anything but the chill atmosphere and the great music. My full review is here at Relix.
Pat Metheny Unity Band http://www.patmetheny.com/unity-band/
I have listened to Pat Metheny since my early college days – and this man schooled me on experimental jazz. I try to catch him every time he comes through NYC. This time he came to town with an incredible small trio including a monster drummer named Antonio Sanchez, Chris Potter on sax and bass clarinet, and Ben Williams on bass.
I admittedly love everything Metheny puts out, so every song that was played was an awe-inspiring moment for me, but the crux of the show was when Metheny played solo, improv with his Orchestrion, and then his band also played improv with the Orchestrion. It was incredibly moving to me, and I floated for a few days after that.
Chad Batka for The New York Times
Neil Young and Crazy Horse
Oh. What to say about this. I have heard from the nay-sayers, and I have to disagree. Young and Crazy Horse on the stage again was magical to me. They played with feedback through the speakers, loudly – cuz that’s what Crazy Horse does. The crowd at MSG would not stand up, oddly enough. They played most of his new stuff, not the old stuff, and not even a Cortez was played for me. (My favorite all time song.)
However, Young and Crazy Horse still brought it, with strange stage hands dressed as construction workers and all. Cinnamon Girl, Needle and the Damage Done, Hey Hey, My My and Powderfinger was enough to make me swoon. It was one of those shows where I was just so happy and felt so lucky to be in the same room with him, to hear him sing and play guitar.
Rolling Stones www.rollingstones.com
Yeah, nothing much to say about this show except it rocked me from the minute it started to the minute it ended. I literally was shaking in anticipation and excitement. Oh yeah, these guys still have it. And bring it to you in spades. Our special guests that night were Lady Gaga, Bruce Springsteen, Gary Clarke Jr., Black Keys and Mick Taylor. Sick. Absolutely Sick show. If they go on tour in 2013, pay the ridiculous cost and see them. You won’t be disappointed at all.
Andras Schiff, pianist, 92Y
This was two very moving shows at the 92Y. Andras Schiff playing both books of The Well Tempered Clavier. Bach wrote them as musical exercises from each major and minor key of every note in the chromatic scale. It was amazing to see this pianist play both shows without the pedal, and without the written piece in front of him. Schiff played both books from memory. It was beautiful, and very cool to hear the different keys being played. I loved it. It was incredibly special.
And, I can’t forget this show: Aaron Neville – My True Story, PBS Taping Concert, Brooklyn Bowl