Dave Miller

Dave Miller

Tompkins Square

With his eponymous, second solo album, Dave Miller—a Chicago by way of New York by way of Chicago guitarist—has realized his crowning glory.

Miller seems more focused, more melodic and generally more guitar-centric this time around, with almost nary a hint of the avant-garde jazz/psychedelic/folk found on 2016’s “Old Door Phantoms” or the experimental rock on the three albums by previous band Algernon.

Continuing in the instrumental-music vein of the above-mentioned efforts, “Dave Miller” has secured the man a spot alongside such tone meisters as Bill Frisell, Arlen Roth, John Jorgenson, Charlie Hunter and Johnny A.

Miller was kind enough to talk a little about his latest refinements.

“I’m always writing music, studying composition and developing my sound on the guitar,” he told Good New Music by email. “That never really stops and is a daily practice. That being said, I do prioritize melody a whole hell of a lot.”

As far as this reviewer’s perceived increase in Miller’s focus, “… that is for sure something I also practice on a daily basis,” he replied, “in all walks of life, really—trying to be more present and trim the fat. I think the main thing that was different about this record vs. ‘Old Door Phantoms’ is that, since I own the (Whiskey Point Recording) studio, I had unlimited studio time to add more instruments, mix to my heart’s content, and generally spend a ton of quality time to sculpt the product. That was indispensable, for sure.”

His stylistic eclecticism remains, matched by the variety of guitars he uses on the album. Here’s a list he provided GNM “from memory”: Gibson ES-335, Fano TC6 Alt de Facto, Teisco Del Ray ET-200, Danelectro baritone, Breedlove acoustic and Gretsch 5715 Electromatic lap steel.

Opening cut “Hand Dipped” delights in its multitracked guitars, which include soul-shaking rhythm and laser-sharp lead set off by fuzzy forays into distortion that take over and carry the tune as they pan back-and-forth between the left and right channels.

The slightly Afro-soul “Rollerblade or Die” chugs along in raw magnificence with a faint sheen of old-school-dub reverb, not unlike something by the Budos Band. “Your New Truth” rings of late-’50s sentimental balladry—imagine Johnny playing “Sleep Walk” without Santo, with a surprise blues coda.

The pinnacle, however, is reached on the penultimate “BW,” a high-energy amalgamation that takes the best bits of “Polk Salad Annie,” “Harper Valley PTA” and “Dance to the Music,” and drops in a little chicken-pickin’ at just the right spot.

Tracks
1. Hand Dipped
2. Fellow Man
3. Rollerblade Or Die
4. Bison Boom
5. Your New Truth
6. Ellie & Arthur
7. BW
8. Deep Moraine

Total time: 41:00

External links
artist’s site
Bandcamp

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Grateful Dead

Pacific Northwest ’73-’74: Believe It if You Need It

Rhino

This three-disc distillation of the concurrently released, 19-disc “Pacific Northwest ’73-’74: The Complete Recordings” arranges 20 songs from five of the six previously unreleased shows that comprise the Grateful Dead’s two short exploratory runs through the region.

Unlike the individually numbered, limited-edition (15,000) box set that goes for nearly $200, this $20 version is not chronologically sequenced. “Believe It if You Need It” instead hopscotches between June 1973 and May 1974, creating what could be considered a virtual-reality performance arguably even better than the real thing.

As with last year’s “Cornell ’77,” it’s exquisitely mastered in HDCD by Jeffrey Norman from original master tapes transferred and magically restored by Plangent Processes. This time around, the artwork is by First Nations artist Roy Henry Vickers.

The 1973 and 1974 offerings on “Believe It” were recorded just before release of the group’s studio albums “Wake of the Flood” and “From the Mars Hotel,” respectively. Besides selections from those, there’s also a nice assortment from Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir’s first solo albums as well as a few from “Workingman’s Dead” and “American Beauty.”

Because multiple sources were used, some songs finish with quick but clean fadeouts. Tracks that originally segued from and/or into others are mostly left that way. An unexpected treat is “Eyes of the World > China Doll,” a stunning instance of poetic license in which two songs played four days apart are fashioned into a standalone fantasy medley — an impressive feat, especially considering that the former came from a “Trucking’ > Nobody’s Fault But Mine > Eyes of the World > China Doll.”

Another highlight is the 47-minute “Playing in the Band,” reputedly the longest ever performed; there are no side trips here, just a big fat midsection of unadulterated improvisation.

In 1973-74, the Grateful Dead were riding high. They’d just left Warner Bros. and started two of their own labels — Grateful Dead Records for group recordings and Round Records for solo projects — as well as designing the 600-speaker Wall of Sound for their ’74 performances. Those were undoubtedly heady times, and “Believe It” makes a strong case for the era being the band’s most exhilarating.

Tracks
DISC ONE
1. China Cat Sunflower (Portland Memorial Coliseum, Portland, OR 5/19/74) >
2. I Know You Rider (Portland Memorial Coliseum, 5/19/74)
3. Bird Song (PNE Coliseum, Vancouver, British Columbia 6/22/73)
4. Box Of Rain (Portland Memorial Coliseum, 6/24/73)
5. Brown-Eyed Women (Hec Edmundson Pavillion, University of Washington, Seattle 5/21/74)
6. Truckin’ (Portland Memorial Coliseum, 5/19/74) >
7. Jam (Portland Memorial Coliseum, 5/19/74) >
8. Not Fade Away (Portland Memorial Coliseum, 5/19/74) >
9. Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad (Portland Memorial Coliseum, 5/19/74)
10. One More Saturday Night (Portland Memorial Coliseum, 5/19/74)

DISC TWO
1. Here Comes Sunshine (PNE Coliseum, 6/22/73)
2. Eyes Of The World (PNE Coliseum, 5/17/74) >
3. China Doll (Hec Edmundson Pavillion, 5/21/74)
4. Playing In The Band (Hec Edmundson Pavillion, 5/21/74)

DISC THREE
1. Sugaree (PNE Coliseum, 5/17/74)
2. He’s Gone (PNE Coliseum, 6/22/73) >
3. Truckin’ (PNE Coliseum, 6/22/73) >
4. The Other One (PNE Coliseum, 6/22/73) >
5. Wharf Rat (PNE Coliseum, 6/22/73)
6. Sugar Magnolia (PNE Coliseum, 6/22/73)

Total time: 3:54:00

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Koch Marshall Trio

Toby Arrives

The Players Club

Every once in a while, someone usually regarded as a rock guitarist comes out of left field with an organ trio album that just blows the socks right off unsuspecting listeners.

A couple of relatively recent examples, both from 2008, are “Hi-Fi Stereo” by Reverend Organdrum (a side project for Jim Heath, aka Reverend Horton Heat) and “The Haunted Melody” by the Steve Howe Trio (yes, Steve Howe of Yes).

Now comes Greg Koch with “Toby Arrives” by the Koch Marshall Trio. Like Howe’s offering, it’s also a father-and-son effort with dad on guitar and son playing drums.

Koch has a sizable back catalog of often instrumental music where getting “out there” is the norm and many genres are covered. But this KMT debut sees a more disciplined Koch distilling his normally “all over the map” sound into a potent blues-jazz blend.

As with many good things, the album coalesced by happenstance. Koch’s drummer son Dylan had been doing gigs in the Twin Cities with a guitarist and an organist, and was always telling his dad to check out the latter sometime. As chance would have it, the organist was going to be in Milwaukee and Dylan persuaded a reluctant Greg into agreeing to a jam. Hammond B-3 player extraordinaire Toby Lee Marshall, expecting only a possibility of a jam at the Koch home, was flabbergasted when Greg took him and Dylan to a studio where drums and an organ were already set up and mic’ed — and the rest is history.

The opening title track is what its name implies: the first of two recorded during that initial March 2017 encounter. Five more tracks were laid down in April, followed by a final one in July. Everything was tracked live in the studio except for an acoustic guitar overdub on “Sin Repent Repeat,” the awesome electric-bottleneck showcase that serves as the set’s denouement.

“Blues-jazz” may be a sufficient modifier in the aggregate, but the trio manages to touch on several sub-subgenres. For instance, the aforementioned “Sin Repent Repeat” has strong gospel overtones.

“Enter the Rats,” with its finger-lickin’ chicken-picking, transitions seamlessly into the ZZ Top-flavored “Boogie Yourself Drade.” For prog fans, the 10-minute “Mysterioso” draws inspiration from Frank Zappa, Allan Holdsworth and Joe Satriani.

“Funk Meat” is another fine display of chicken-picking that starts out sounding like the theme to an alternate-universe “Sanford and Son” and then throws in a contrapuntal snarl or two from Greg’s 1958 Gibson Les Paul reissue. That ax is also used on the title track, but for the rest the Gristleman uses his 1955 Fender Telecaster Custom Shop model.

With all the great virtuosity, tone and recording/mixing/mastering (by Steve Hamilton at Makin’ Sausage Music), it’s no wonder Ed van Zijl of the Netherlands-based Mascot Label Group made “Toby” the first release on his Players Club imprint — and signed KMT to a multi-album deal.

“I am and have always been a lover of great guitar playing,” van Zijl said when Good New Music took a shot in the dark and reached out to him via email. “(On) The Players Club … you will find freestyle jam music all based around the guitar. It might be instrumental, it might be vocal. The artists do not get any instructions from me, only my trust and belief in them.”

Van Zijl added, “I want an outlet for great musicianship and to let the artists do what they are good at, what they love, and have them not make any compromises whatsoever for commercial reasons.”

When asked if anyone else was lined up for future Players Club releases (“Toby Arrives” and Tommy Emmanuel’s “Accomplice One” are the only entries so far), van Zijl replied: “We currently have two more artists recording for TPC: Vernon Reid … (and) Jan Akkerman. … We have more on our target list, of course, who we will announce in due time. I do not know release dates yet for the above albums, but I estimate fall at the earliest.”

Van Zijl said he has plans for taking the Players Club concept on the road, as well.

“Once we have enough albums out, we want the artists to tour together and in the right circuit,” he told GNM. “Imagine Vernon Reid and Jan Akkerman together — that would make a cool package. Just an idea so far. It will take a little time to start that up as that part is never easy, but touring is part of the plan.

“We just did our first Provogue label tour in Europe under the name Rockin’ the Blues … (and did) seven shows in three countries. You can find plenty of that on YouTube. 2019 will see more countries and shows, and I hope to launch it in the U.S. in two or three years.

“(For) The Players Club we will do something similar … but in a smaller and more specialized circuit with maybe residencies in certain towns.”

Go Ed!

Tracks
1. Toby Arrives
2. Funk Meat
3. Heed The Boogaloo
4. Let’s Get Sinister
5. Mysterioso
6. Enter The Rats
7. Boogie Yourself Drade
8. Sin Repent Repeat

Total time: 50:48

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Winnie Winston

Wanted for Steeling

Richard Weize Archives (ACD 12570)

Unlike most pedal steel players, the late great Winnie (aka Julian) Winston’s background was in folk music rather than country: As an award-winning banjoist in the 1960s, he formed the New York City Ramblers with David Grisman, a group that shared the stage with Bob Dylan at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival.

In the ’70s Winston switched gears. He designed and built his own pedal steel guitar, and later co-wrote a self-teaching manual called “Pedal Steel Guitar” with Bill Keith. Session work followed — as both banjoist and pedal steel guitarist — for Steve Goodman, David Bromberg, Rosalie Sorrels and Mary McCaslin, among others.

His “solo” pedal-steel albums from that period largely consisted of three obscure, long-out-of-print LPs made with friend and guitarist Hank Davis — the first two of which were issued under the nom de plume “Raunch Radley” (a fictitious country-music legend dreamed up by Davis); the third release bore their real names.

“Wanted for Steeling” is a collection curated by Davis that draws from the above-mentioned three albums as well as from previously unreleased recordings. It’s also another excellent release commissioned by reissue meister Richard Weize for the RWA label, his post-Bear Family Records endeavor.

Though they attended the same New York high school in the late ’50s, Winston and Davis moved in different circles socially and musically, with the former inclined toward folk and the latter preferring rockabilly. Upon graduating, Winston studied industrial design and Davis pursued psychology, and both became teachers. Winston kept up his musical pursuits playing pedal steel in a country band, whereas Davis — who’d wound up at the University of Guelph in Ontario — put recording/performing on the back burner. But then things changed.

The following excerpt from an archival newspaper article in the Kitchener-Waterloo (Ontario) Record tells what happened next:

“(I got a phone call from high school friend) Winnie Winston, a guy I hadn’t seen for 16 years. He played pedal steel guitar in a country band, and he called to say that he had dreamed of me three nights running, and thought he’d better look me up.”

Hank invited Winston to his farm near Puslinch, and Winston brought his pedal steel along.

“We sat around the house playing, and we got real good real fast,” says Hank. “We decided to do a recording session and see what happened.”

Davis and Winston booked time in the Mercey Brothers Studio in Elmira. They recorded 10 songs in 10 takes.

Later, they visited a second studio. Everything about the sessions pleased Hank … except the cost.

“I said to myself, ‘If we’re going to keep making records, I might as well build my own studio at the farm.’ I just went out and bought the equipment and now we record at my place.”

“Wanted for Steeling” documents a telepathic interplay between the visually oriented and psychologically oriented minds, respectively, of Winston and Davis.

This is not flashy hillbilly jazz modeled after 1950s pedal-steel/electric-guitar duo Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant. Davis wears his rock ’n’ roll heart on his sleeve, sometimes enhancing the bed tracks of guitar and pedal steel with his own overdubbed bass, drums, piano or additional guitar. Winston often solos into uncharted territory, using his mind’s eye as a sextant and Davis’ guitar as his North Star.

Davis uses finesse in sequencing the compilation’s tracks, choosing to blend the Raunch Radley selections with the cuts from “Cloud Dancing.”

“With (the) Raunch Radley (material), we were looking to create the feel of vintage ’50s rock ’n’ roll and kind of painted ourselves into a corner,” Davis told Good New Music recently in a telephone interview. “ ‘Cloud Dancing’ (which followed the two Raunch Radley LPs) allowed Winnie to stretch out on pedal steel.”

“Winnie would play the Steel Guitar Convention in St. Louis and come here on his way back,” Davis added. “I got used to the fact that he would come in and put his steel guitar on the floor and be ready to go. I remember one year I had everything ready for him in the studio so he could get it done in Take 1.”

When asked who initiated the idea for the compilation, Davis said it was mutual.

“Richard Weize had put out a Jerry Byrd album,” he told GNM. “I said, ‘If you can put out a Byrd album, you can put out a Winston album.’ He asked if I had the tapes, and I said yes. He wanted to know if I could supply archival photos, and I told him I thought so. ‘Let’s do it!’ he said.”

Among the collection’s previously unissued tracks is “Spider Trap,” at once a groovy and laid-back number. “It’s basically blues,” Davis said. “We did that in one take. It was after ‘Cloud Dancing’ and we never did anything with the tape. I had at least 50 tunes recorded with Winnie and I thought, ‘This is it — it has to come out.’ ”

Another song to see its first light of day is the bouncy “Right Out the Door,” which sounds a lot like “Green Green Grass of Home” but with a Luther Perkins-style chug-along rhythm guitar.

“Dancing Steel” is a previously unreleased instrumental reworking of a Davis vocal song, “I Just Don’t Feel Like Dancing.” Davis explained, “I recorded the vocal version with Winnie in the studio in 1974, the first year we got together. I didn’t have a studio at my house yet. I sang and played piano and Winnie played steel. Years later we tried it as instrumental, and I overdubbed drums and bass.”

In fact, Davis incorporates five songs recorded for his own vocal albums on this otherwise instrumental collection. “But I Do,” “What Went Wrong,” “Conversation” and “Mongoose” have remained in the can for nearly 40 years before seeing release here. “Old New Orleans R&B” came out on Davis’ “One Way Track” album.

The vocal songs were included to show that Winston — besides being a great soloist — was also an excellent sideman, Davis told GNM. “(I knew) those songs … wouldn’t go down well with people who buy my albums today. Otherwise, they were just going to sit in the vault.”

Other standout offerings from among the field of 27 songs (all of which are first-rate) are “Steady as She Goes,” aka “Christmas Train” from the “Cloud Dancing” LP; the previously unissued “Thanksgiving Blessing,” one of three such showpiece tunes recorded immediately after one of Winston’s Pedal Steel Guitar Convention gigs (the other two being “Waltzing Matilda” and the Eagles’ “Desperado”); “Drivin’ and Jivin’ ”; “Misty Morn,” which appeared in a different version on Winston’s 1978 solo album “Steel Wool”; “Big Black Machine”; “Bouncing off the Trees”; and “Dreaming at the Bar.”

Tracks
1. Right Out The Door
2. Almost Home
3. Steady As She Goes
4. Downhill Blues
5. Old New Orleans R&B
6. Dancing Steel
7. Truckstop
8. Snowballs In June
9. Cajun Potatoes
10. The Eagle
11. But I Do
12. The Frog Invasion
13. Lonely Boys Like Me
14. Winding Down
15. Thanksgiving Blessing
16. What Went Wrong
17. Drivin’ And Jivin’
18. Misty Morn
19. Spider Trap
20. Waltzing Matilda
21. Conversation
22. Desperado
23. Big Black Machine
24. Old Time Friend
25. Bouncing Off The Trees
26. Dreaming At The Bar
27. Mongoose

Total time: 1:18:19

External links
artist’s site
amazon.com
Bear Family Records

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Jerry Douglas Band

What If

Rounder

On a self-issued dare, Dobro/lap steel maestro Jerry Douglas formed a band. Their resulting debut album is right up there with mandolinist Mike Marshall’s 1984 release “Gator Strut.”

Like “Gator Strut,” the Jerry Douglas Band’s “What If” swirls genres in unexpected and mind-blowing ways around a loose core of progressive bluegrass using the best studio sound possible. Douglas, aka Flux — who’s evolved from bluegrass to newgrass to New Age to world fusion, with countless session dates and collaborations along the way as well as a nearly 20-year stint in Alison Krauss and Union Station — has again stepped out of his comfort zone to come up with something new.

“Something new” this time is a pleasantly surreal alternate musical universe that shape-shifts through bluegrass, country, folk, rock and blues but with a constant jazz denominator supplied by JDB guitarist Mike Seal, saxophonist Jamel Mitchell and trumpeter Vance Thompson.

“I’ve always heard horn lines in my songs, and I usually put something else there instead,” Douglas explains in his record label’s press release for the album; oftentimes, that “something else” was mandolin and/or banjo. But this time the listener gets to hear what was originally in the artist’s head.

“Unfolding” unfolds with solos, beginning with Douglas’ bluesy riffing. Next in the spotlight are Christian Sedelmyer’s violin and Mitchell’s sax, which in conjunction with the Dobro recall just how great Loggins and Messina’s extended pieces on “Full Sail” and “Mother Lode” were. Then the song takes a left turn into free-form, as Seal cuts loose with an Allan Holdsworth-ian jam. The final solo is offered up(right) by bassist Daniel Kimbro, before a reprise of the main melody closes out the whole affair.

“2:19,” one of the only two vocal numbers, features some surprisingly capable and soulful singing by Douglas on a Tom Waits cover that’s given somewhat of a “Ry Cooder by way of New Orleans” treatment. The other vocal number (again sung by Douglas) is an interpretation of the massively covered 1960s classic “Hey Joe” and arguably the album’s most bluegrassy production.

The title track easily is the most emotional, with its extended classical intro dissolving into plaintive and mellow twin-horn action that comes and goes throughout before the song drifts away on a short-but-sweet display of guitar subtly reminiscent of Jerry Garcia.

Other highlights include the opening “Cavebop” (beatnik hillbilly jazz, featuring really great offbeat drumming by Doug Belote); a trio of Celtic-style tunes (“Go Ahead and Leave,” “Butcher Boy” and “The Last Wild Moor”); and the closing “Hot Country 84.5,” an overtly country ditty that cheerfully straddles the line between waltz and shuffle.

“What If” is a departure for Douglas in that it’s a band album. But it’s also a more than worthy addition to his lengthy line of fine instrumental releases, and one that admirably extends his creative reach into uncharted territory.

Tracks
1. Cavebop
2. Unfolding
3. 2:19
4. What If
5. Hey Joe
6. Battle Stick
7. Go Ahead And Leave
8. Butcher Boy
9. Freemantle
10. The Last Wild Moor
11. Hot Country 84.5

Total time: 52:00

External links
artist’s site
amazon.com
iTunes Store

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