LIVE: Bob Dylan & His Band @ Tanglewood, 7/2/16

July 11th, 2016, 4:00 pm by Greg


Review and photographs by Martin Benjamin

What a gorgeous evening it was at Tanglewood. Perfect breeze, perfect temp, perfect humidity and crystal clear out. The crowd was mostly boomer with some 30-40 somethings sprinkled in. Mavis Staples opened with a spirited set backed by her integrated band of three white guys and two black back-up singers. The musicians were a tight unit, playing softly when called upon and incredibly rocking when justified. Guitarist Rick Holmstrom was a standout, full of the energy of youth backing the energetic 76-year-old singer.

Mavis hit her stride beautifully on the third song, Talking Heads’ “Spirited People.” At the end of this song Mavis chatted about Bob. “We’re happy to be here with our good friend Bob Dylan. That Bob, he’s something, you know. I love listening to him, but I really love watching him. He’s got this move [to his step], he’s so cool.”

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LIVE: Mavis Staples / Joan Osborne @ Proctors, 11/6/15

November 16th, 2015, 4:00 pm by Greg
Joan Osborne and Mavis Staples

Mavis Staples and Joan Osborne

Review by Don Wilcock
Photographs by Rudy Lu

OK, I admit it. My expectations for the Mavis Staples/Joan Osborne concert at Proctors last weekend were way over the top. I have seen transcendent performances by both artists, who, at their best, grab their audiences by the throat and take them to heaven not just in their great songs, but with their personalities that cause you to fall in love with them through their intimate connections and amazing vocal prowess.

The idea that these two beautiful souls would collaborate had me fantasizing that together one plus one would equal infinity, an explosive fusion of two great sirens, one black, one white; one a legend of the civil rights movement – the moral equivalent of Martin Luther King – the other a waif from Kentucky who spent years woodshedding with the Holmes Brothers to channel the blues giants and erase society’s imposed boundaries between gospel, blues and pop. Osborne is a vocal dynamo who turned me into a believer more than two decades ago when she blew the roof of The Metro in Saratoga with a version of Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Help Me” that transformed his dirty old man ballad into an erotic orgasm.

Of course, all that hope of an epic collaboration was fantasy. Four days before their major U.S. tour opened in the famed Fillmore in San Francisco, Osborne had yet to rehearse with Staples. She told me they had yet to even get together and talk about the tour. By the time the show hit Schenectady, they’d done 20 shows in a little over a month, and Mavis chided her “Skin–eck–at–diddy” audience: “I believe this is my first time here. What took you so long? You should have had us before now. You let me get older.”

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Live: Day Two of Solid Sound Festival @ MASS MoCA, 8/14/10

August 18th, 2010, 10:10 am by Greg

Wilco's John Stirratt

Wilco's John Stirratt

RANDOM PATTER #1: “Thanks for letting us take over your town…” – Jeff Tweedy, taking a break from Wilco’s monstrous closing set

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: MASS MoCA’s no stranger to long-form musical happenings – witness the annual weirdness that is Bang on a Can Marathon. But rather than put the brilliant weirdness that was Solid Sound in one suffocating space, Wilco (officially known as the festival’s “curators”) split most of the acts between two stages in the museum’s interior courtyards with a larger third stage for the headliners in nearby “Joe’s Field.” This arrangement meant the afternoon entertainment was almost non-stop, with a splendid level of variation that stretched from the nouveau punk of all-boy-band Brenda to the Old School political theater of Vermont’s legendary Bread & Puppet Theater.

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