What's up Keyboard readers! Robbie Gennet here on the new Keyboard blog, reporting in from Southern California. I tend to get around down here to see a wide variety of shows (and play a few too!) and wanted to give you the scoop on what's been happening that's of interest to keyboard players and fans of good music in general.
Let's start with the funk. I had the privilege of seeing one of the all-time great funk bands recently: the Average White Band, who absolutely killed it with a live set that had every booty in the house grooving hard. AWB has to be one of the tightest live bands in the business with a repertoire that kills from first song to last. Hearing classics like "Pick Up the Pieces" and "Cut the Cake" live was a real treat, and my friends and I were all smiles throughout. Kudos to singer/keyboardist and occasional bassist and lead guitarist Klyde Jones, whose smoking vocal chops and solid instrumental skills were highlighted throughout the show. Replacing original singer Hamish Stuart ain't easy, but with Jones, AWB have pumped gallons of new blood into the band. This isn't a "nostalgia" act, but a living, breathing funk machine. Miss this band on tour and you are officially out of the funk club! Check out AWB's tour dates and more at http://www.averagewhiteband.com/ and Jones at http://www.klydejones.com.
A few weeks back, I got a call to come jam with Doors guitarist Robby Krieger and some friends at former Zappa bassist Arthur Barrow's Lotek studio down in Venice, which was a blast. He had an 88 Rhodes topped with a Clavinet model C with a Hammond organ set up behind the keyboard chair. I hooked up a few pedals that I dig to the Rhodes, including an MXR Eddie Van Halen phaser, the MXR Tremolo and the BBE Two Timer Delay pedal, which you'll soon see in the Delay Pedal episode of Stompbox Garage on this very website. Using a wah on the Clav provides such a flexible voice and a wide palette of tonal choices. I traditionally use a Vox wah, though this time I brought out the Vox Big Bad Wah with the extra drive channel. Nice to have some extra grit for some shred solos! The jam was great, very freeform and we wrapped it all up with a hot version of "Chameleon" by the Headhunters. Thanks to Arthur for hosting the jam! On a side note, Arthur also had a pretty cool modular synth collection, some of which was used on the posthumous American Prayer record by the surviving Doors (a must own if you don't have it!). Besides playing bass with Zappa for five tours and a host of albums in the '70s and '80s, Barrow also worked with Giorgio Moroder on the soundtracks to Scarface and Top Gun, and played with a wide variety of artists including Diana Ross, Joe Cocker and Billy Idol.
On October 1st at the Gibson Amphitheater, I witnessed one of the great American rock bands, Pearl Jam, putting on one of the best shows of the year. Every night, they play a sometimes radically different setlist and on this, the second of four nights at Gibson, they really nailed some of my favorites, from the supercharged version of "Severed Hand" from their last self-titled album (the Avocado album, as it's known) to the rarely played "Once" from their debut. They also did an awesome cover of the Police's "Driven to Tears" which let drummer Matt Cameron do the best Stewart Copeland impersonation ever. Add to that a rare performance of "Jeremy" and knockout new tunes like "Amongst the Waves," throw in a sick encore with "I Believe in Miracles" and "Alive" and you got yourself a classic concert. Peep the entire setlist here: http://pearljam.com/tour/show/gibson-amphitheater-oct-01-2009. Also, their entire tour is being released on CD--again, see their website for more info.
On Saturday the 3rd, I went to a Burning Man "Decompression" festival in Downtown L.A. to join my good buddy Arlan Scheirbaum and his psychedelic Ice Cream Truck jam. For those of you who witnessed or engaged in the jam at NAMM, you know what went down... Moog, Hammond and Wurly madness with a full rhythm section all stuffed into the Ice Cream truck! Always a fun time, which you can sample on our Stompbox Garage jams online at www.youtube.com/keyboardmag1 If you're a YouTuber, subscribe, add us as a friend and leave a comment or two. Speaking of YouTube, check out the Talking Piano. Definitely the weird video of the week, and if anyone has a translation from the German, leave a comment at the end of this blog. What the piano "says" is in English, though. . . .
For a little bonus, download a free mp3 of the new Chromeo talkboxed cover of the Eagles "I Can't Tell You Why" at http://www.chromeo-djkicks.com/ and chill out Chromeo style. Enjoy! See you soon!