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items tagged with River Roots Live

An Element of Surprise: Keller Williams with the Travelin’ McCourys, August 17 at River Roots Live
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2012-08-13 14:13:48

Keller Williams & the Travelin' McCourys. Photo by Casey Flanigan.

Given that Keller Williams’ albums feature one-syllable titles that roughly describe their contents, a look at his discography hints at the artist’s aggressively nomadic nature. Over the past few years alone, there’s a bluegrass covers album (Thief), family-friendly music (Kids), reggae dub funk (Bass), and this year’s Pick, a bluegrass record with the Travelin’ McCourys – featuring two sons of genre legend Del McCoury. And Williams is of course known for his solo show, in which he live-loops all the parts to become his own band.

“Although I have not been diagnosed, I would think there’s an Attention Deficit Disorder that’s in play here,” Williams said in a recent phone interview. “And I mean that in the best possible way. I personally can’t just focus on one genre of music without losing interest. ... It’s very easy for me to play bass and reggae music with one group and the next day play guitar in a bluegrass band. It gives me the most joy to be able to do that. Too much of one thing, it could be bad, and I could slip into a rut where I’m just thinking about other things on stage. ... Once I play solo for many weeks in a row, I’m so ready to play with other people, and vice versa.”

Despite keeping his schedule varied, band and solo settings have their frustrations. In solo shows, he said, “I think that thought kind of creeps in: I wish I could playing with other people, communicating without language. The camaraderie of bands ... is just incredible, and I often miss that. At the same time, ... [when playing with a band] sometimes I can’t reach that level of energy that I can reach with my solo act.”

But when Williams performs at River Roots Live on August 17 with the Travelin’ McCourys, neither of those should be an issue. “The McCourys is a whole different ballgame,” Williams said. “It’s such a joy for me to be able to play with them, I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to be anywhere else than up on stage with them at that time.”


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Extra Ordinary: Better Than Ezra, August 18 at River Roots Live
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2012-08-08 19:20:30

Better Than Ezra. Photo by Rick Olivier.When I interviewed Better Than Ezra singer/songwriter/guitarist Kevin Griffin earlier this month, I asked him whether the group’s next album – originally conceived as a late-2012 release – had been pushed to next year to mark the band’s quarter-century milestone.

“I had no idea that next year will be the 25th anniversary,” he said. “Oh my God.”

He recovered quickly, though:“This is the 25th-anniversary release, which will ... be our swan song.”

He was kidding about Ezra’s retirement, saying that “it just felt like the thing to say.” And the band certainly shows no signs of quitting at 25 years. The trio is one of the headliners at this year’s River Roots Live festival, it continues to regularly produce new music that connects with fans, and Griffin has built a second career writing songs for other artists (including Sugarland, James Blunt, Train, and Debbie Harry) that keeps him busy when Ezra isn’t.


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River Roots Live: Seeing God for a Minute – Blues Traveler, August 20, 9:30 p.m.
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2011-08-03 14:40:03

(Other coverage of River Roots Live 2011 can be found here.)

Blues Traveler

Blues Traveler guitarist and songwriter Chan Kinchla calls the band’s 2005 album ¡Bastardos! “our transitional record,” and he admitted it has been a long transition.

Following three gold albums, the group – fronted by vocalist, harmonica player, and songwriter John Popper – had a top-10 hit in the mid-1990s with Four’s “Run-Around,” and the record itself went platinum six times, no small feat for a jam band. Straight on Till Morning (from 1997) also went platinum, but the death in 1999 of bassist Bobby Sheehan spurred a process of reinvention that might finally be over.

Blues Traveler will be headlining River Roots Live on Saturday, August 20, and as the band prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary next year, it’s planning big things. A retrospective package – including B sides and live material – is slated for March release, Kinchla said in a phone interview last week. (“The B sides have turned into almost a pretty good album all by themselves.”) And a new record is in the works for the summer. That, he said, will be Blues Traveler’s attempt at a great album.


Read More About River Roots Live: Seeing God For A Minute – Blues Traveler, August 20, 9:30 P.M....


River Roots Live: Moving in the Mud – Nikka Costa, August 20, 11 p.m.
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2011-08-03 14:40:02

(Other coverage of River Roots Live 2011 can be found here.)

Nikka CostaFor the video promo for her song “Chase the Thrill,” Nikka Costa said she and the director “just got in my bathroom and went for it.”

Lest you think that something dirty happened, “went for it” in this case means re-creating the famous shower scene from Psycho, with Costa in the role of Marion Crane.

Also on her “Nikka’s Box” YouTube channel (YouTube.com/user/nikkasbox) is a Rocky-style training video and “Streaking Nikka,” in which the topless rock/soul singer (naughty bits obscured) encourages viewers to check out her new EP Pro*Whoa. “What’s a girl gotta do to get her music heard?” she asks.

Such is the existence of Costa, who will close River Roots Live with an 11 p.m. set on August 20. She is now operating independently after a successful music career as a child (she is the daughter of producer Don Costa) and well-reviewed albums as an adult on Virgin and Stax. (Entertainment Weekly called 2001’s Everybody Got Their Something an “intoxicating starburst of self-affirming R&B” and “an audacious, fresh-as-a-daisy debut,” while the All Music Guide said its follow-up features songs that are “muscular, funky, and imaginatively arranged ... .This is big, dynamic music that cries for a big audience ... .”)


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River Roots Live: Open to Anything – The Apache Relay, August 20, 6:30 p.m.
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2011-08-03 14:40:01

(Other coverage of River Roots Live 2011 can be found here.)

The Apache Relay

For its second record, The Apache Relay – which will perform on August 20 at River Roots Live – initially tracked 10 songs in early 2010. But the band sat on the record – preferring a 2011 release to a late-2010 one – and that layoff prompted singer/songwriter Michael Ford Jr. to write new songs.

“I felt like in my heart of hearts that I had songs that needed to be on the record that hadn’t been written yet,” he said in a phone interview last week. “I felt like I had better in me. ... I wanted to write better songs.”

So in the fall they tracked a handful of songs – some new, some different versions of previously recorded songs – and the fusion of those two sessions is American Nomad, which Nashville Scene called “exuberantly tuneful” and “irresistibly idealistic.”

The final version of American Nomad only ditched two songs – “Sets Me Free” and “Lost Kid” took their places – but the band’s decision to hold off on the record is one indication of the The Apache Relay’s maturity. Even though the band is young – Ford is 23 – and has been around just two years, it seems and sounds far more experienced.


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