Until the surprise announcement of Bay Head from Gunn-Truscinski Duo last year, it seemed like these guys may never put out another record together. Their last platter, Ocean Parkway, was released back in 2012 and besides a very special gig for the Three Lobed Sweet Sixteen, the pair had been awfully quiet for a long time. Fortunately for us Bay Head picks up right where they left off, proving that when Steve Gunn and John Truscinski get a room together, it’s a rare magic that results. And speaking of rare, the duo aren’t doing many shows together in support of the record, but we were lucky enough to capture this set from Union Pool last week. Old classics “Bahn Mi Ringtones” and “Ocean Parkway” brought back memories of Zebulon gigs past, and the new songs “Sugar,” “Seagulls for Chuck Berry,” and “Gunter” captivated.
If you’re in LA, be sure to grab tickets for their show with Body/Head.
And if you’re in Brooklyn, Union Pool has another free show scheduled for this Tuesday, Jan. 16, with the inimitable Sir Richard Bishop headlining.
I recorded this from our usual spot with MBHOs combined with a board feed courtesy of FOH Doug. The sound is terrific. Enjoy!
For all the reasons I need not repeat here, protest music is perhaps more vital now than at any other time in my lifetime if not everyone’s. Lee Ranaldo’s engagement with Occupy Wall Street has been well documented; and it was around that time that he started performing Neil Young’s classic “Revolution Blues” regularly at shows. Coming off inauguration weekend, I think we can safely call all of the songs Ranaldo performed last Sunday protest music, each song imploring us in its own language to “resist, resist, resist, resist.”
Wrapping up his two-week tour with Meg Baird and Steve Gunn (Steve’s set here, Meg’s set to come), Ranaldo showed up at Park Church Co-op with a slew of new material (some of which we’ve heardbefore), plus covers of The Velvet Underground’s “Ocean” and the aforementioned Neil Young tune. Will the help of a few friends—left to right in the above photo that’s Georgia Hubley, Ira Kaplan, Lee, and Steve—the glorious crescendo of “Ocean” is as overwhelming as the lyrics’ crashing waves suggest. These days, we need art not only for protest but also to uplift, and this performance is nothing if not uplifting. Closing with “Revolution Blues,” Lee is joined by Steve Gunn on guitar and Meg Baird on vocals. We’ve heard Lee do this song a few times now, but trading verses with Meg the forty-year-old song and its lyrics feel refreshing as we listen with new ears.
I recorded this set from my improvised tapers section in front of board, combined with a feed from Park Church’s engineer Jasno Swarez. The sound is excellent. Enjoy—and resist!
Steve Gunn needs little introduction in these pages. We’re big fans—and no doubt you are too. Steve has been touring the US and Canada the last couple weeks along with Meg Baird and Lee Ranaldo, the trio making up the first must-see tour of 2017 and spreading some much needed solidarity, positive vibes, and resistance in these unfortunate times. The final weekend of the tour found them playing Washington, DC on the night of the inauguration, Philadelphia the night of the next day’s massive and exhilarating marches, and wrapping up Sunday night in Brooklyn at the Park Church Co-op. The success of the weekend’s protests had people feeling pretty hopeful by Sunday night and this solo set from Gunn feels great all the way through. Seeing him solo and in a smaller, less formal space than December’s Bell House gig brought back happy memories of the days when you could regularly catch Gunn doing an intimate set at Zebulon.
I recorded this set from in front of board, combined with a feed from Park Church’s engineer Jasno Swarez. The sound is excellent. Enjoy—and resist!
Watching Steve Gunn and his latest band play this performance at The Bell House reminded me of the below Gunn performance with Alex Bleeker & the Freaks at the “Play Dead” show that we captured in 2015. Gunn’s music at the time — consisting of solo guitar records, his duo work in Gunn-Truscinski Duo, and his two Paradise of Bachelors LPs, Time Off and Way Out Weather — wasn’t necessarily the work of someone who revered the Dead. But as he and Bleeker’s band played “Wharf Rat” that night, it all clicked. Part of what continues to make the Grateful Dead so special is that there are multiple entry points to the band, a whole universe of styles and vibes contained within individual tours and individual shows and, even, individual songs. Gunn wasn’t a person who mimicked the band’s style(s), at all, but he had absorbed many of their lessons. And this show, more than most of his I have seen, proved it.
This show, the band’s final of the year after a long slog of touring and greatly increased exposure thanks to Gunn’s Matador Records debut, Eyes On the Lines, was my first time seeing most of Eyes On the Lines in the live setting, despite having seen Gunn several times this year. Maybe it was the hometown crowd, whose love is unconditional and the opposite of the “play the hits” mentality of the festival crowds, maybe it was the finely honed interplay among the musicians, maybe it was just them saying “fuck it” and doing things the way they wanted — whatever it was, Gunn and Co. came out and turned even some of the relatively concise material of Eyes On the Lines into life-affirming jams that both challenged and enlightened. What’s most gratifying about watching an artist that you’ve followed for a while keep doing this after achieving his greatest commercial popularity to date is to know how unafraid of it he is, how resolutely true to himself.
Gunn bookended the show with stripped-down songs, starting things off with a fourteen-minute solo acoustic “Old Strange” that was a classic mix of Gunn’s earnest lyrics and desert blues guitar, with the “Wildwood” encore with James Elkington on the electric and Steve on the acoustic. While hearing the new songs — especially a personal favorite, “Ancient Jules” — was a blast, what also stuck me was once again how the music cut through the heaviness of the political moment without flinching from it. Gunn’s impassioned intro to “Park Bench Smile” about inclusion and “fighting what the fuck’s happening” hit its mark, but the song, as rendered, spoke for itself. A noisy, messy, emphatic rendition of the song, it felt like so much of this moment, chaotic but, ultimately, resolved into something hopeful, defiant, and right. What a way to end a year.
I recorded this set with engineer David Hurtgen’s house mix combined with Schoeps MK41V hypercardiod microphones. David’s regular work with the venue shows here, as the sound is dialed in and excellent. Enjoy!
Tracks [Total Time 1:26:57]
02 Old Strange [solo acoustic]
03 Way Out Weather
04 Conditions Wild
06 Ancient Jules
07 Night Wander
08 Full Moon Tide
12 Park Bench Smile
13 [encore break]
14 Wildwood [duo w/ Elkington]
James Elkington – Guitar
Jason Meagher – Bass
John Truscinski – Drums
PLEASE SUPPORT STEVE GUNN:
Matador didn’t want us to allow fans to donate money to Steve Gunn on our bandcamp page in exchange for this download, as is their right. But please do use your money to support Steve Gunn and Matador: Go to matadorrecords.com or your local record store and buy Eyes On the Lines.
After 13 albums, the anticipation for Steve Gunn‘s next LP is almost unbearable, especially considering the last one — Parallelogram — was an amazing collaboration with Kurt Vile for Three-Lobed Records. The newest one from the Brooklyn-based guitarist is called Eyes on the Line and is out today. Gunn is known for his killer guitar skills, and certainly doesn’t do us wrong on the track “Park Bench Smile” — just a taste of the new album. The video matches the feel of this song, doing the same thing visually that he’s able to do sonically with his guitar and vocals; it puts the listener in a mesmerized trance of folkish psychedelic notes and melodies.
Though his solo career has been the (very successful) focus of late, many of us were first exposed to the virtuosic guitar playing of Steve Gunn via his perfect pairing with the drummer John Truscinski. The duo produced a pair of outstanding albums on Three Lobed Recordings, Sand City and the masterstroke Ocean Parkway, each with an indelible connection to desert blues, Indian ragas, American folk, and psychedelia. By our count, though, their last live shows doing this music were in 2012, including the Hopscotch Music Festival and 285 Kent shows that appeared on this site.
That made it especially exciting to experience the group’s return to a stage where we’ve seen them before — at King’s in Raleigh, NC. This time, we were celebrating the sixteenth anniversary of Three Lobed Recordings, and in a sense, the reissue of both of the duo’s albums by the label this year. Building on Gunn’s dynamic afternoon solo set, the pair gifted us three songs filled with precise interplay and hypnotic guitar work. Gunn dug deep on the guitar work during “Ocean Parkway” and “Banh Mi Ringtones,” the latter’s signature melody leading the pair into an explosive, noisy jam that iced the cake for those of us who love seeing these two play together about equally to our love for Gunn’s solo outings. After “Banh Mi” wound back to its subtler beginnings, the pair closed with “Wythe Raag” from Sand City, which managed to evoke both the namesake Brooklyn street and legendary musical style for which it’s named. That number likewise came in the three parts, building to another sprawling noise climax before its mystical, melodic closing. As Gunn prepares to tour his new record, we hope these two will find time to continue to work together — it’s something not to be missed.
I recorded this set as with the other sets from the day, with a combination of multiple soundboard channels from engineer Brad Womack’s feed, together with onstage Schoeps MK22 mics and mounted MBHO mics in the center of the room. The sound quality is simply phenomenal. Enjoy!
In case you live under a rock, Steve Gunn is a pretty big deal in the independent music world. Along with working with Kurt Vile, he’s released a sprawl of killer records, from his duo work with John Truscinski, to his collaborations with Hiss Golden Messenger, Mike Cooper and the Black Twig Pickers, to his work with GHQ, to his singer/songwriter solo work. There is no version of Steve Gunn that isn’t great, that isn’t able to worm its way into your brain and stick there, and maybe make you think in the process.
Like Bardo Pond, Gunn is another artist that Three Lobed Recordings has been aligned with for a long time, and the fact that Steve would take the stage twice at the Three Lobed Sweet Sixteen Spectacular, in celebration of the label’s sixteenth anniversary, says what you need to know about his commitment right back. If (as it would seem) Gunn will prove to be one of the Three Lobed alumni with the greatest popular appeal, it won’t be because he’s abandoned the spirited, inventive and challenging style of playing that early fans have always cherished. The proof of that lies in this single set from King’s, as Steve closed out the morning portion of the day with just three long songs. Sure, “Old Strange” is a bit easier to hum along to than GHQ’s “Four Trees,” but it’s still fifteen freaking minutes long, as played here, with the lyrics and the chorus almost afterthoughts amidst the guitar work that almost makes you forget there’s just one of him up there. That doesn’t discount one of Gunn’s other most-loved and longest epics, “The Lurker (Extended),” which graced the Not the Spaces You Know, But Between Them boxed set on Three Lobed, and arrived in stunning form here. He closed with “Mr. Franklin,” another relatively uncommon number in his current tour repertoire, and readied himself for the second half of this day, when he would join John Truscinski for their first duo set in several years (that recording coming soon).
I recorded this set in the same manner as the other recordings from the day, with Schoeps MK22 open cardiod microphones onstage, MBHO microphones in the audience, and a multichannel soundboard feed from Justin Perrachon. The sound quality is outstanding. Enjoy!
With his brand new album Night Fiction, the Irish guitarist Cian Nugent has followed in the footsteps of some of his other guitar proteges. That is, without abandoning the intricate guitar sound that brought us in to begin with, he’s also stepped to the mic as vocalist in a full band. This was Nugent’s first U.S. tour in that capacity, and the Union Pool crowd knew it, stuffing the place to the gills on a warm Wednesday night. With a crack band that includes Ryan Jewell (also of Ryley Walker’s regular outfit, among others) and C. Spencer Yeh, Nugent delved straight into the new material with a stirring “First Run,” one of the bluesier rock numbers in his new repertoire. As another review put it, Nugent didn’t exactly need to “find his voice,” but his new turn as a singer nonetheless felt assured. Things took a contemplative turn mid-set with the unhurried “Things Don’t Change That Fast,” one of the album’s centerpiece tracks, followed by the like-minded “Shadows.”
But if you thought Nugent was going down on a somber note, I hope you didn’t miss the show’s piece de resistance, with a surprise visit from Steve Gunn on the fifteen-minute album boogie monster “Year of the Snake.” Conjuring the magic of the stunning Desert Heat show we captured a few years ago, Gunn and Nugent traded riffs like the longtime collaborators they are, with both clearly feeling the energy of the room and the night. It was an absolute barnstormer of a song, with the two players so far in the zone you almost hoped it wouldn’t end. Cian will be back in town on April 9 at Alphaville — be sure to see him there.
I recorded this set with Schoeps MK5 cardiod microphones and a soundboard feed from Union Pool engineer Robert. The sound quality is outstanding. Enjoy!
If you were a fan of the Grateful Dead, and you saw the actual band live, then you’ve probably got more than your share of opinions about the various combinations of the remaining parts of it who’ve tried to transact on the original’s greatness. As someone who never saw the actual band (but has seen some successful and less-than-successful related projects), I’m not here to convince you. But for my money, there’s something rewarding, something essential, about watching much-younger musicians, with full careers filled with their own original material in front of them, paying tribute to one of rock music’s foundational bands.
I loved the Brooklyn Bowl show that we posted by Alex Bleeker and The Freaks — that one a combo run through their new album and some other originals, followed by a “Play Dead” set that’s become a staple of many of their live shows. This one flipped that script, with Bleeker and pals offering up a 100-minute set consisting almost entirely of Dead covers. This — my final show of the year — was billed as the afterparty to Phish’s 12/30 Madison Square Garden show, and the celebratory air from that event (an especially strong performance from this year’s MSG run) carried over into the more intimate confines of Rough Trade NYC.
Overall, this “Play Dead” was a looser, better and arguably truer performance to the spirit of the original band. While the Brooklyn Bowl set consisted mainly of discrete run-throughs of each song, you’ll notice that this set was filled with segues, kicking off with “China Cat Sunflower” into a surging “I Know You Rider” before venturing into cosmic territory with “Eyes to the World” into “He’s Gone” into “The Other One,” taking a short detour through “Dark Star” and ending up, improbably, with a Bleeker original, “Sealong Hair,” from their latest record, Country Agenda. After that came three more non-Dead tunes (two more originals, plus their regular-rotation cover of Mountain Man’s “Animal Tracks,” a fierce jam in its own right. Where Bleeker was joined last time by Real Estate’s Martin Courtney, here we had another cameo by one of his Ridgewood, NJ pals, Julian Lynch and multi-talented Dave Harrington (of many bands, but perhaps best-known for his work in Darkside). The band managed to deliver a little birthday salutation to Harringon in between “Tennessee Jed” and “St. Stephen,” which closed the set. By that point it was 2 a.m. and the club’s neighbors weren’t going to tolerate any more. For those of us inside, though, this was an afterparty that we’d have been happy to continue all night.
I recorded this set with a soundboard feed from Rough Trade engineer Leah, together with Schoeps MK4V microphones. The sound quality is outstanding. Enjoy!
Tracks [Total Time: 1:43:00]
All songs by the Grateful Dead unless noted
01 tuning>China Cat Sunflower>
02 I Know You Rider
03 Eyes of the World>
04 He’s Gone>
05 The Other One>
06 Dark Star Jam>
07 Sealong Hair [Alex Bleeker & the Freaks]
08 Downright Stinson [Alex Bleeker & the Freaks]
09 Animal Tracks [Mountain Man]
10 U.H.M. [Alex Bleeker & the Freaks]
11 Shakedown Street>
12 The Wheel>
13 Tennessee Jed>
14 [Happy bday to Dave]>
15 St. Stephen
If you download this recording from NYCTaper, PLEASE SUPPORT Alex Bleeker & the Freaks, visit their Facebook page, and purchase their new album Country Agenda from Sinderlyn Records [HERE].
Alex Bleeker and The Freaks treated us to two concerts on Thursday night at Brooklyn Bowl. As the release party for the new album Country Agenda, the first set was an extremely well-played run through much of the record with some older Freaks tunes, and one outstanding cover. The second set was the Freaks “Play Dead” — a guest-filled performance of Grateful Dead tunes, similar to what the band did in Chicago in July.
Country Agenda struck me most upon first listen as an album with superb production values. The sound quality is absurdly good, but what’s more compelling is that the songs have a feel that is consistent with the music. While others have pointed to the American Beauty / Workingman’s Dead qualities of the songs, this album very much more resembles a Laurel Canyon record and the offshoots of that movement. For the live performance, what substituted for the production values of the record was the tightness of the band. The Freaks were extremely well rehearsed and wired into each other — this is a band of both talent and commitment and the performance proved that. But this was also a night when the Freaks had some fun and let loose. The jamming aspect of this show began with the final number of the first set, an extended cover of Ricky Skaggs’ “Gone Home,” and continued throughout the second set of Grateful Dead music. Among the Dead songs, the one that jumped out most was the Martin Courtney (Bleeker’s bandmate in his other project, Real Estate) appearance for “Here Comes Sunshine”, which featured Courtney’s unique vocals and a tight three-guitar attack (thanks to the addition of Courtney) that nailed what is otherwise a difficult song to pull off. By “difficult,” I mean that the Grateful Dead themselves stopped playing it for a couple of decades because of timing difficulties. The night ended in very sweet fashion, as the uber-talent Steve Gunn led the band through a profound version of “Wharf Rat.” In total, Alex Bleeker and The Freaks provided us with two sets and well over two hours of music featuring both the band’s superb new album and a fun set of Dead covers. It was a tremendous night and fortunately it will be repeated soon. The band will once again “Play Dead” on December 30 at Rough Trade.
Acidjack and I both recorded this set with separate rigs. We shared a superb board feed provided by Brooklyn Bowl’s FOH (we need help with his name to give full credit) and we both ran Schoeps from the middle of the room. I used the Schoeps CCM4 cardioids and acidjack ran his MK41V supercardiods. The sound in the room was also quite excellent (including very little crowd chatter). The nyctaper mix favors the audience feed (about 65/35 in favor of the room), while the acidjack mix accentuates the well-mixed board feed. The sound quality of both mixes is superb but offer different approaches to this show. Enjoy!
Note: All of the material on this site is offered with artist permission, free to fans, at our expense. The only thing we ask is that you download the material directly from this site, rather than re-posting the direct links or the files on other sites without our permission. Please respect our request, and feel free to repost the Soundcloud links.
Alex Bleeker and The Freaks
Brooklyn, NY USA
Digital Master Recording
Soundboard + Audience Matrix
[Total Time 1:03:37]
01 Little Dream I Had
03 See You On Sunday
04 [false start]
05 Country Agenda
07 The Rest
08 Sealong Hair
09 Honey I Don’t Know
10 Downright Stinson
11 Leave On the Light
13 [banter – new record]
14 Gone Home [Ricky Skaggs]
[Total Time 1:14:41]
15 Viola Lee Blues
16 Tennessee Jed
17 Jack Straw
18 [Martin Courtney intro]
19 Here Comes Sunshine
20 He’s Gone
21 The Other One
22 He’s Gone Reprise
23 [Steve Gunn intro]
24 Wharf Rat
Set 1 [Total Time: 1:03:42]
01 Little Dream I Had
03 See You On Sunday
05 Country Agenda
07 The Rest
08 Sealong Hair
09 Honey, I Don’t Know
10 Downright Stinson
11 Leave On the Light
14 Gone Home [Ricky Skaggs]
Set 2 – Grateful Dead cover set [Total Time: 1:14:44]
01 Viola Lee Blues
02 Tennessee Jed
03 Jack Straw
05 Here Comes Sunshine %
06 He’s Gone> %
07 The Other One>He’s Gone %
09 Wharf Rat $
% w/ Martin Courtney
$ w/ Steve Gunn
If you Download this recording from NYCTaper, we expect that you will PLEASE SUPPORT Alex Bleeker and the Freaks, visit their Facebook page, and purchase their new album Country Agenda from Sinderlyn Records [HERE].