A couple of days after Levon Helm, drummer, singer and key member of The Band, the legendary rock group of the 1960s and 70s (and then again the 80s and the 90s), died in the middle of last month, I got to hear a podcast that excerpted two radio interviews with Helm—one from 1993 and the other 2007. There was a distinct difference in Helm’s voice between the two interviews. In the 1993 interview he sounded exactly like he did on The Weight. Remember The Weight? I pulled into Nazareth, I was feelin’ about half past dead;/ I just need some place where I can lay my head. “Hey, mister, can you tell me where a man might find a bed?”/ He just grinned and shook my hand, and “No!”, was all he said. What a gorgeous song that is. The vocals were shared by three of The Band’s singers. Besides Helm, there was Richard Manuel and Rick Danko. The song itself was written by guitarist Robbie Robertson who, I read somewhere, was inspired by the films of Luis Bunuel to write The Weight. Read more

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When a Facebook friend sent a Dropbox link to a mixtape called San Francisco Dues, I just had to explore what it was all about. San Francisco Dues is a Chuck Berry album that was released 40 years ago  and any mixtape that evokes Berry needs to be given a listen to post haste! So I wasted no time in downloading the mixtape and to my most pleasant surprise, it turned out to be a bonanza. But before that, a bit about Dropbox. Do you use it? I’ve just started and I can’t stop raving about this most convenient way to ferry your files to wherever you want on whatever device you like or happen to have with you. In more technical terms it is a Web-based file hosting service that uses cloud computing to enable users to store and share files and folders across multiple devices as well as with other people. Read more

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You are unlikely to find a rock musician who works harder than Warren Haynes. The 51-year-old lead guitarist and singer works in three bands – Gov’t Mule, which he fronts, The Allman Brothers Band where he plays the lead guitar along with, Derek Trucks, his own solo projects, as well as occasional stints with Phil Lesh & Friends. How the man manages to do all of that for outfits that tour like maniacs – most of these bands mainly play live gigs (sometimes more than a 100 shows a year) and record very few studio albums – is a mystery. Yet Haynes, who was featured at No. 23 on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, powers on, shuffling his dates between bands and, as he did recently, makes time to record studio albums as well. Read more

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I don’t know exactly what I was doing on March 12 and 13, 1971 except that I was not-yet-a-teenager studying in Class 6 in a Calcutta school. Of course, I had not even the faintest idea that on the other side of the planet on those two dates, rock history was being made as a band played what is one of the best live concert recordings that I have heard. On those two nights, at New York’s Fillmore East venue, The Allman Brothers Band played two gigs that were later turned (along with another gig there that they played in June the same year) into The Fillmore Concerts album. Read more

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It is likely you may not have even heard of S Carey, leave alone heard his music. I hadn’t a clue who this guy was till I accidentally caught a set by him and his band at a free live gig in Brooklyn recently. Carey (whose real name is Sean Carey) plays the drums with a flair that shows his influences – shades of percussive jazz. I wasn’t surprised to learn that Carey has been surrounded by music all his life (he’s probably still in his twenties) as a son of a music teacher in Wisconsin. His set was full of brooding, inward-looking tracks, made all the more deep by his bandmate Mike Noyce who adds layers of low-frequency string sounds on an upright viola. Carey, who self-released his debut album, All We Grow, this year, plays what you could call chamber pop with a touch of folk music and a non-intrusive, ambient nature. Read more

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What’s worse than being jet-lagged? Being jet-lagged and hung-over. So it was last Saturday, around noon, when I woke up with minor explosions going on inside my head, non-stop. Now, I have friends who’ve told me about several remedies for hangovers—ones that they even swear by—such as drinking a Bloody Mary; several cups of black coffee; an Alka-Seltzer or two or three and so on. To be honest, I have tried all of these and more and none really ever worked. So, with my head feeling like it was being pounded from inside, I took a risk and reached out for The Black Keys’ new album, Brothers, and pushed the play button. Joy is what followed. Read more

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There were two reasons why I picked up an album a couple of weeks back and they had nothing to do with the music. The first, was the name of the band Dr. Fong & Friends. I liked that. The second, was the name of the album Beethoven of Da Blues. I liked that even more. Dr. Fong is the pseudonym of self-taught American blues musician, Jay Wilfong, and in reality he and his band play a brand of mean rock-infused blues, almost all of it original compositions.
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I came back from a break of a couple of weeks and turned on the Internet taps to be hit by a deluge. New music and news about music just gushed out like a dam had broken and, what’s more, much of it was great stuff. Most of it was by contemporary musicians but there was also some from older musicians as well. Like the news about the recently launched first volume of a box set that digs deep into Neil Young’s archives. Read more

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