CD reviews

Agent 23 and B Ski Rocks, The Road Less Traveled: Four Stars

Genre(s): Hip-Hop, Rap

You’ll like it if: You can identify at least one soulful bone in your body

Defining song: “Ghosts Roaming the Earth”—Agent 23’s spitfire lyrics depict our assembly-line society with potent conviction.

Rap and optimism have always been strange bedfellows. However, local rapper Agent 23—who is part of the GFE (formerly Granola Funk Express) Collective—is making this merger more mainstream. Thanks to delicious beats crafted by B Ski Rocks, and guest wails by Deep Banana Blackout’s Jen Durkin, The Road Less Traveled may soon have a lot of ear traffic.

Show review

Holiday Mayhem

The 17th annual Warren Haynes Christmas Jam

The beauty of the X-mas Jam is the improbable musical unions that merge perfectly in a live setting. Although jamband-oriented, a glance down the marquee revealed names like Marty Stuart and old-timey guru Dr. Ralph Stanley. Female performers were the most notable omission.

Despite the fanfare surrounding the trio of Trey Anastasio, Mike Gordon and Bill Kreutzmann, the post-show word of mouth drooled collectively over Marty Stuart’s set. The three-song barrage (with an accompanying quartet which included Dave Schools and Warren Haynes) of “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” and “Mr. Spaceman” by The Byrds and “I Don’t Think Hank Done It This Way” by Waylon Jennings scorched the already molten arena. In fitting fashion, Gov’t Mule rounded out the evening/morning and included a very appropriate Temple of the Dog/Traffic sandwich: “Hunger Strike // Dear Mr. Fantasy // Hunger Strike”.

“Warren and his musician friends bring music to our mountains; however, what they really bring is hope [fulfilled] of a safe, decent, affordable home, to families in our community,” said Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Lew Krauss, whose comments should help cleanse anyone feeling guilty over all night partying.

Of course, Krauss is a little biased. Not including this year’s concert, the jam has raised more than $310,000 for Habitat.

The A-Tone Music Bash

For those needing a more low-key locale, local indie label A-Tone Music hosted their First Annual Meet ‘n’ Greet at Stella Blue on Tuesday, Dec. 27. Guests enjoyed party favors – Aaron Price’s new CD and Jr. James and the Late Guitar’s new eccentric offering, “Semi-Conductor”—as well as an evening of unconventional music. Jr. James complemented his acoustic set with a sampled orchestra on one song, and a French translator on another. The sinister sibling pair of Aaron Price and John Price (the latter a bass player living in NYC) and drummer John Spurrier plundered the jazz frontier, while Eric and Clark (of Man or Astro-Man?) offered dual deliveries on electric guitar and drums. The audience included faces from the Blue Rags and Mad Tea Party, who periodically added to the onstage fracas.

[When he’s not bending readers to his will, Hunter Pope cooks, gardens, hikes and spends his mortgage money on CDs he’s never heard.]


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