Greg's Grab Bag - Phish/Texas Tornados/Neil Diamond
Greg’s Grab Bag Phish – Festival 8: A 3 Day Festival Anyone that follows the jam band scene will no doubt recognize that Phish helped create its own unique musical niche through its innovative and creative approach to live performances. That spirit of innovation extends beyond the stage as evidenced by the recent digital concert recordings the band released using slotMusic microSD cards. From October 30 through November 1, 2009, Phish held a festival at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California. This event was dubbed Festival 8 and it featured eight separate sets of music over a three-day period. To help document the music of Festival 8, Phish decided to offer instant downloads of the shows on microSD cards. Interested fans could pre-order the shows when entering the venue and pick up the loaded microSD cards on the way out, usually 10-15 minutes after the final set. These microSD cards, which are manufactured by slotMusic, feature fully mixed and multi-tracked audio from each performance and are housed in a plastic USB sleeve so that they can be used on computers as well as cell phones, MP3 players and other microSD-compatible devices. Festival 8 proved to be the perfect time to debut this new technology because it was an amazing event worthy of the special attention. To give some historical perspective to the festival, Phish broke up in August 2004 and the band members didn’t play all together again until the group officially reunited in March 2009. The 3-night reunion run in Hampton, Virginia was followed by a summer tour that took the band across the country from May through August before moving on to California to host Festival 8. It is clear from these recordings that the band was definitely back and playing as a well-oiled machine again in California. The improvisational jams are tight, the setlists combine the best of band’s old and new material and the enthusiasm of each member is evident from the positive vibes that emanate through the speakers. Of particular note is the first set from November 1, the first all-acoustic set in band history, which contains an inspired performance of “The Curtain With” that provides fans with nearly 12 minutes of acoustic bliss. Another highlight was the full-album cover performance of the Rolling Stones’ classic Exile On Main Street, which would serve as the band’s Halloween musical costume for its second set on October 31. Along with the performances from Festival 8, Phish used the same microSD technology for its equally impressive New Year’s Eve run of shows at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. The limited edition microSD cards for both events are available as individual shows or bundled sets through the band’s Web site.
Texas Tornados – ¡Está Bueno! 2010 marks the return of the legendary Tex-Mex supergroup the Texas Tornados. Although Freddy Fender and Doug Sahm are no longer with us, Sahm’s son Shawn partnered with Flaco Jimenez and Augie Meyers to record a new album that picks up right where the band left off back in the late ‘90s. The Texas Tornados are known for creating fun music that combines country and rock in a Tejano style that reflects influences from both Texas and Mexico and this new album, which was released by Ray Benson’s Bismeaux Records label, is no exception. It is virtually impossible to not smile when you hear Flaco Jimenez’s accordion and you get a healthy dose of that trademark sound on tracks like “Chicano,” “Velma From Selma” and the group’s bilingual cover of the classic “In Heaven There Is No Beer.” The album’s humorous title track, a Meyers-penned ballad about the perils of eating jalapeno peppers, is a new Texas Tornados classic. Contributions from both Fender and the elder Sahm make this new album particularly special. Sahm's voice is used on one track and he shares songwriting credits with his son on the harmony-laden and catchy “Who’s To Blame, Senorita?," while Fender provides five previously-unreleased vocal performances.
Neil Diamond – Hot August Night/NYC: Live From Madison Square Garden Although Neil Diamond is no stranger to concert recordings, his latest live CD and DVD on Legacy Recordings ranks as one of his stronger efforts thanks in large part to a diversified song selection that combines his greatest hits with a few select tracks from his two most-recent solo efforts – outstanding collaborations with producer Rick Rubin that further cemented Diamond’s status as a master songwriter. Recorded during four sold-out shows at New York’s Madison Square Garden in August 2008, the 27 tracks from the primary portion of the set capture Diamond at his in-concert best and include early singles like “Cherry, Cherry” and “Solitary Man,” both from 1966, and 1967’s “Thank The Lord For The Night Time” along with standout new songs like “Home Before Dark,” “Pretty Amazing Grace” and “Don’t Go There” from 2008’s Home Before Dark and "Man of God” and “Hell Yeah” from 2005’s 12 Songs. Along with the Madison Square Garden material, six additional tracks from tour stops in 2002, 2005 and 2008 round out the set including favorites like “Soolaimon” and “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon.” Another highlight of the DVD set is “Welcome Home Neil,” a film documenting Diamond’s return to his boyhood home in Brooklyn. Until next time, enjoy the music!