One for the Road – Soulfly – The International – Knoxville, TN


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Soulfly at the International in Knoxville, Tennessee on October 22, 2015

Max Cavalera has been carrying the torch for thrash metal and metal music in general for over thirty years.

Whether it be his genre defining work with Brazilian legends Sepultura, his fronting of the often under appreciated Soulfly, his many brilliant side projects such as Nailbomb, Cavalera Conspiracy (which saw him reunite with brother and fellow original Sepultura drummer Igor Cavalera) or the more recently formed Killer Be Killed, Cavalera could easily challenge and beat out all comers seeking to be king of the thrash metal world.

Here’s the thing though, if the metal gods were to choose to anoint Cavalera as their king, he’d likely spit on the crown, throw it into a mosh pit and write a masterpiece of record denouncing the monarchy.

Just in case you’re wondering, yes Cavalera is that much of a bad ass and his sublime talent as musician as well a song writer should never come into question as here are countless reasons why well respected hard rock and metal icons such as Dave Grohl (Nirvana/Foo Fighters) and Chino Moreno (Deftones) have chosen to collaborate with Cavalera over the years.

Cavalera brought the Soulfly tribe to the International in Knoxville this past week and the band nearly ripped the roof from its trusses with yet another bombastic and powerhouse metal performance that all who were attendance for should consider themselves lucky to have witnessed first hand.

Touring on the critically well received and tenth Soulfly studio release, Archangel, the band tore through a blistering 90-minute set of ferocity that had the International crowd moshing, thrashing and crashing into one another all evening long.

The set list Soulfly chose to feature included more than a few tracks off of the recently released Archangel including the title track “Archangel,” “Titans,” “Ishtar Rising,” and in my opinion one of the best Soulfly tracks ever produced, “Sodomites.”

Cavalera along with son Zyon (Drums), Marc Rizzo (lead guitar) and relatively new Soulfly touring bass player Mike Leon got the masses wound up by also cranking out Soulfly classics such as “Seek n’ Strike,” “Prophecy” and the crunching one, two punch of a set closer, “Jump Da Fuck Up and “Eye for an Eye.”

My affinity and respect for Cavalera and Soulfly’s music is unbending however I would be lying if I didn’t admit that one of the highlights of my attending any Soulfly concert is when Sepultura riffs make their way out of the amps and into the crowd.

This past Thursday proved to be no different as both myself and the vast majority of the fans got whipped into an immediate time warp and frenzy when the first chords of Sepultura tracks such as “Refuse/Resist,” “Dead Embryonic Cells/Arise” and “Roots Bloody Roots” were struck.

The days of thrash and sped metal shows selling out venues in this country has long since passed, assuming those times actually ever even existed.   However, you have to understand something, metal is a club that doesn’t accept memberships, you are simply either in or you’re out.

Metal doesn’t tolerate fair weather fans or passengers and I suspect the legends of the industry such as Cavalera himself would likely share this sentiment and wear it as a badge of honor.

Should you wish the defense to submit facts to support this case the only piece of evidence I’d ever present to the jury would be any live performance by Cavalera himself.

Over the years I’ve seen Cavalera perform in front of tens of thousands at events such as Ozzfest, several thousand in amphitheaters fronting Sepultura and even on the lighted stage in front of several hundred ravaging fans.

The takeaway from every single one of those performances is whether it be one person or one hundred thousand people in the audience Cavalera plays like it’s his last show on Earth and he always makes the fans feel as though they are part of his personal tribe.

This past week at the International in Knoxville Cavalera and Soulfly proved that nothing has changed as the band connected with the thrash starved audience from first note to last and delivered a performance any metal outfit would consider themselves lucky to emulate, let alone actually be able to pull off.

All hail king Cavalera, long live the king.



One to Watch: Sleepwalkers – ISIS Music Hall – November 4th – 9:00 PM


Sleepwalkers play the ISIS Music Hall on November 4th at 9:00 PM

Pop, rock, psychedelic or whatever label you want to place on Sleepwalkers, the primary takeaway one should come away with regarding the Richmond, Virginia based quartet is a fairly simple one, these guys are just plain good.

Continuing to tour on their critically well received 2014 debut release, Greenwood Shade, Sleepwalkers offer up catchy layered harmonies, textured melodies and overall sublime musicianship to create a retro sound that evokes 70’s acts such as Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac and Paul McCartney’s Wings, while also throwing in some psychedelic elements that one may liken to Pink Floyd but probably are more closely aligned to that of Tame Impala.

Sleepwalkers sound is not completely locked in a time machine as there are nods to more modern alternative bands reminiscent of such acts as Vampire Weekend and even the Fleet Foxes.

Yet this is the very thing that ultimately makes Sleepwalkers something that is beyond rare in today’s world of popular music, they are unique.   By incorporating a multitude of influences that spread across decades and genres Sleepwalkers can’t easily be defined or put into a singular box and isn’t this a good thing?

On record the music Sleepwalkers offer up is somewhat complex and intricate.  Thus Greenwood Shade is an album I’d suggest grabbing a pair of of high quality headphones and listening to from beginning to end.

It’s literally one of those records where you’ll find yourself hearing sounds and experiencing each track a bit differently on every new listen.  That being said, one should not understate the electricity Sleepwalkers are able to generate in a live setting.

Although Greenwood Shade comes off a bit mellow and breezy on record when the band takes these songs to the stage they still retain the retro sound created in the studio but with significantly more rock and guitar oriented punch than one might expect.

Having taken in their show at the Grey Eagle earlier this year I can provide first hand testimony proving that it’s beyond evident why fellow Richmond, Virginia based rockers J. Roddy Walston & the Business took them on the road, Sleepwalkers rock.

Come see for yourself as Sleepwalkers play the ISIS Music Hall Wednesday November 4th at 9:00 PM.

Who:         Sleepwalkers

Where:      ISIS Music Hall / 743 Haywood Road

When:        Wednesday November 4, 2015 / 9:00 PM

Cost:          $5

Slice of the Peel: Grace Potter’s Two Night Residency in Asheville at the Orange Peel


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Grace Potter – At the Orange Peel – October 13, 2015

Grace Potter stopped the tour bus outside the Orange Peel in Asheville to deliver two nights of rock and roll to the North Carolina mountain town’s masses this past week.

Even if you’re a fan of Potter’s music it’s possible you may have not been aware that this time around she’s out promoting her first solo effort sans the Nocturnals the pop, groove and even dance oriented Midnight.

Sonically Midnight is quite a divergence from the more jam band oriented sound of the Nocturnals earlier efforts and even from the more rock radio friendly 2012’s The Lion the Beast the Beat, thus it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Potter has made changes to the band’s line up for this tour’s cycle as well.

Gone are original Nocturnal guitarist Scott Tournet, as well as Asheville resident and recent bassist for the Nocturnals, Michael Libramento.  These fine musicians have been replaced by Ben Alleman (guitar/keys), Tim Deaux (Bass), Eliza Jones (keys) and Daiki Hirano (percussion).

I’m guessing that these line up alterations are in large part are a reflection of Potter’s desire to bring a different sound and feel to her live shows that is more closely aligned with the direction of the new material.

Original Nocturnals drummer Matt Burr is still behind the kit as is long time guitar player Benny Yurco.   It’s the latter in Yurco where as any fan of Potter’s live shows over the past decade you are forced to take notice of.

In the past Tournet would often take most of the leads on the monster solos embedded within live versions of Nocturnals set staples such as “Stop of the Bus” and the “Divide.”   So one of the questions one would have to ask of Potter’s current live production is Yurco up to the challenge?

Not only has Yurco stepped up to the plate in terms of taking the lead guitar reigns, it seems as though he’s taken it upon himself to up his playing acumen to levels not previously achieved during his traditional role as more of the rhythm guitarist for the Nocturnals.

The new music, the new band members and even old band members taking on new roles have changed Potter’s live shows in a number of ways and her two shows at the Orange Peel earlier this week mirrored those adjustments.

Night one of Potter’s two-night stand at the Orange Peel featured more of the new material including such stand out tracks as, “Alive Tonight”.  Although the track, like most of the songs on Midnight, have a more pop and even synth based sound on record, in a live setting these newer efforts pack more old school rock and roll punch than one might expect.

The added oomph comes more in the form of the additional keys and percussion elements that are now present in the band that help to create a broader, more diverse and wider sonic wall versus the three headed guitar monster sonic boom helmed by Yurco, Tournet and Potter herself that often dominated her live outings throughout the Nocutrnals years.

Night two of Potter’s Asheville residency felt much closer to an old school original Nocturnals show as the performance was highlighted not only by a bit more of Potter’s old material being inserted into the set list but by the sheer rock n roll energy the band was breathing from the stage and into the audience all night long.

That being said there is not a single member in attendance that wouldn’t agree that the highlight of the show was guitar and Asheville legend Warren Haynes joining forces with Potter for a few numbers.

Haynes and Potter took took to the Peel’s stage as a duo to perform a transcendent version of a song the two have performed together previously with Potter sitting in with Hayne’s Gov’t Mule, Fleetwood Mac’s, “Gold Dust Woman.”

The rest of Potter’s band returned to see Haynes take the lead on a blistering take of the Rolling Stones, “Gimme Shelter” that saw Haynes and Yurco at one point going blow for blow on guitar.

It’s understandable that many of Potter’s traditional fan base may initially have a bit of hard time embracing her new material because without question Midnight is in a no shape or form close to sounding like anything the Nocturnals ever produced in the studio and to be honest, I think that very well may have been Potter’s intent.

For a band that not only prides itself on its live performances but actually built its fan base off of them the one question regardless of the direction of the new material and lineup changes has to be asked, is Potter still capable of delivering where it matters most, under the lights and on the stage?

My response is really two fold as one, without question Potter and her current band deliver all the big moments you’ve come to expect of them with a level of musicianship, energy and sheer joy any band would hope to be able to achieve.

The second part of my response is much more simple, go see for yourself, I not only assure you won’t be disappointed; I’ll guaranty it*

*restrictions may apply, specifically your ability to recognize sublimely talented musicians melting your face off.


One to Watch – Grace Potter at the Orange Peel October 13th and 14th

Grace Potter: Some Things Change and Some Things Stay the Same

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Grace Potter at Grand Point North – Burlington, VT – September 12, 2015 – Photo Courtesy of Robert Forte – 40_Photography

Not unlike many musicians Grace Potter’s ascendancy to super stardom may seem to have blossomed over night, however, the reality is the mistress of the magical midnight road show began paying her dues to the rock & roll gods over a decade ago.

Long before sharing the stage with the likes of Mick Jagger or singing duets with Kenny Chesney, Potter and her band the Nocturnals earned their stripes by playing upwards of 200 live shows per year while attempting to literally gig themselves into relevancy.

The band released four studio albums from 2005-2012 including 2010’s self titled Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, which spawned more radio recognizable hits such as “Paris (Ohh La La)” and “Medicine”, as well as the critically well received 2012’s The Lion the Beast the Beat.

The Nocturnals aforementioned last two releases on Hollywood Records began to see the band’s sound sway more toward the mainstream rock pendulum versus the Americana and jam band oriented sound the band had crafted on their earlier releases.

Changes have continued for Potter in 2015 as she’s now touring on her recently released solo record Midnight.  Many long time fans of Potter expecting her first effort sans the Nocturnals to be sonically aligned with her past may be in for a bit of a surprise.

Midnight still features, if not showcases, Potter’s powerhouse vocals but the songs and ultimately the sonic palate of the record itself is vastly different than anything the Nocturnals ever churned out.

Midnight has turned up the pop, the synths, the dance beats and the funk in ways that would get most anyone grooving and dancing in the streets.  That being the case I’m certainly willing to concede some of Potter’s fans may not immediately connect with the new material.

Potter has been criticized in some rock critic circles as attempting to craft herself into the rock version of Katie Perry.   I scoff at this notion and instead choose to believe that Potter is simply a sublimely talented song writer, vocalist and musician that wanted to write songs from a different place and perspective as well as to challenge herself to produce something unfamiliar and well fun.  If those were indeed her goals in regards to Midnight, I’d say she knocked them out of the park.

Although the Nocturnals all played on Midnight founding member Scott Tournet as well as most recent Nocturnal bassist Michael Libramento aren’t part of Potter’s current touring band that she’s dubbed the “Magical Midnight Roadshow.”

Long time Nocturnals guitar player Benny Yurco and original drummer Matt Burr are still along for the ride with Yurco proving he’s more than capable of helming the interstellar guitar solos he once shared with Tournet.

Potter’s new touring band additions, Ben Alleman (keys/guitar), Tim Deaux (bass), Daiki Hirano (percussion) and Eliza Jones (keys) seem to have been brought into the fold to accent Midnight’s more pop oriented feel but the result the new band creates live is a much weightier sonic wall that adds punch, albeit in a different form, to any Nocturnal’s classics they attempt to tackle on stage.

Having attended Potter’s Grand Point North music festival last month, now in it’s fifth year, I had the opportunity to see and more importantly hear her new band perform songs from the past as well as cuts off the current record.

Let me attempt to put some of her longtime fans fears to rest and state that above all else Potter has and continues to be a ferocious no holds bar live performer that’s capable of channeling the soul of Janis Joplin, the whimsy and romance of Stevie Nicks and the heart and grit of Chrissy Hynde at any given moment.   Potter’s live shows from the beginning of her career have always been a tour de force and I assure you this hasn’t changed in 2015.

The verdict is an easy one as whether it be hard charging rock guitar oriented Nocturnals favorites such as “Stop the Bus” or more recent solo tracks like “Alive Tonight”, Potter and her bandmates both old and new deliver one of the most wildly delirious, exciting and engaging rock and roll shows anyone would be lucky enough to experience first hand.

Should you have the inclination to have your doors blown off musically, to dance, to sing and to connect with one of the greatest female rock performers of our generation, come join me both nights this week at the Orange Peel. I feel supremely confident you’ll be shaking, grooving and smiling from first note to last.

Who:         Grace Potter

Where:     The Orange Peel / 101 Biltmore Avenue

When:       Tuesday October 13th / Wednesday October 14th

Cost:          $35 advance / 38 day of show

Buy Tickets For Tuesday October 13th

Buy Tickets For Wednesday October 14th

Asheville Mardi Gras 2015 – Meet The King & Queen!

The Asheville Mardi Gras Parade started at 1:00 with folks lining up on Wall Street in Downtown Asheville. Then at around 3:20, the parade kicked off and everyone was celebrating. G Social Media stopped by and took several GoPro videos of this event.

  1. Watch Asheville Second Line
  2. Watch Zabumba
  3. Watch The King & Queen