Joe Russo’s Almost Dead played their two shows in California this weekend at House of Blues in San Diego and the Fox Theater in Oakland. During their Saturday night show, guitarist and songwriter Bob Weir showed up to see for himself what the buzz surrounding the band is all about. Joe Russo, Dave Dreiwitz, Marco Benevento, Tom Hamilton and Scott Metzger don’t just play Grateful Dead tunes, they reinvent them in a modern, enhanced way. So to see the two forces come together was a spectacular moment for fans.As the band went into their acoustic portion of the performance, which has become somewhat of a regular thing since their most recent Brooklyn Bowl run, Weir emerged after the opening “It Must Have Been The Roses” to contribute his guitar playing and vocals on Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” Grateful Dead’s “Black Throated Wind,” Dylan’s “When I Paint My Masterpiece” and Bobby’s “Cassidy.” You can watch the full performance below, courtesy of YouTube user TimeZonerTV:Joe Russo’s Almost Dead @ The Fox Theatre 11/12/16:Set 1 (8:00PM – 10:13PM)Jam ->Good Lovin’ (SM) ->Cumberland Blues (All) ->Help On The Way (TH) @ ->Slipknot! ->Music Never Stopped (SM)He’s Gone (TH) >The Wheel # (All) >Jackstraw $ (SM & TH)Acoustic Set ^ (No Set Break)Must Have Been The Roses % (TH)Hard Rain Is Gonna Fall + (BW)Black Throated Wind + (BW)When I Paint My Masterpiece + (BW)Cassidy + (BW) ->Let It Grow Jam + ->Cassidy + (BW)Set 2 (10:33PM – 11:59PM)King Solomon’s MarblesRow Jimmy (TH)Estimated Prophet (SM) ->Uncle John’s Band (All)Eyes Of The World && (TH) ->Jam *->Throwing Stones (SM) ->Deal Jam & ->Throwing Stones (SM) ->Hey Bulldog Jam ^ ->Throwing Stones (SM)E: One More Saturday Night (SM)@ – Proceeded by an emphatic “Shakedown Street” Tease# – With an “Head Over Heels” (Tears for Fears) Tease (MB)$ – During the jam before the final “We can share the women…” lyrics, the stage was transformed seamlessly for the acoustic set. MB’s piano was moved (while he was still playing it), a small kit for Joe rolled out on a riser, mics & stools were placed for SM, TH & BW.^ – All songs with MB on Upright Piano & Vocals, TH & SM on Acoustic Guitars & Vocals, DD on Upright Bass & JR on 3 piece kit – Kick, Snare & Hi Hat – & Vocals.% – Almost Dead only+ – With Bob Weir on Acoustic Guitar & Vocals as indicated&& – With a DD Bass Solo & an MB piano solo* – Contained elements of Throwing Stones& – First Time Played By Almost Dead^ – Beatles cover, first Time Played By Almost Dead as an instrumental. (The full song was played on 2016.07.02.)This was probably the longest show Almost Dead has played, at about 3:39.[Setlist via Joe Russo’s Almost Dead]
Today, The Disco Biscuits’ Aron Magner has announced a brand-new solo project called SPAGA. Also featuring bassist Jason Fratacelli and drummer Matt Scarano, SPAGA will see the trio in a stripped-down, acoustic format. Originally conceived two years ago, SPAGA sees Magner getting back to his roots as a pianist.As he noted in a press release about his history as a musician,The woman who lived next door to me as a kid was the neighborhood piano teacher. … I started with her early in life and took to it more than others. But I became disinterested by age ten and stopped playing for a bit until I was introduced to jazz when I was 13. … I stopped studying jazz as I explored jam rock with the Biscuits in our infancy, but always maintained an affection for the genre, perhaps bringing a jazzy style to some of the Biscuits improv. … Even going so far as to write songs such as “Smoothie King,” “Soul is Shaking”, or “I Remember Ray” into the Biscuits repertoire. None of them stuck around for high rotation, but they were fun to play none the less. I didn’t have another project they would be appropriate for anyway.While in The Disco Biscuits, Aron Magner serves as the group’s virtuosic player behind the keys, Magner is also a next-level pianist, with friends encouraging him to perform behind a grand piano for years and explore that side of his artistry. Thus, with the time finally right, Magner began to envision SPAGA as a trio rooted in jazz, allowing the band to improvise while further highlighting his classical and jazz training.For the new project, Magner found it was important to maintain that SPAGA is a reflection of his origins. As such, he made sure to choose local musicians to join him—first upright bassist Jason Fratecelli who later enlisted drummer Matt Scarano—with the project’s first album, which is due out in early 2019, recorded in a local studio.“I started with just one song,” Magner recalled in a press release. “The song ’Colors.’ It stayed just that song for probably close to a year before beginning to take steps towards writing more for a project and album in mind.” He continued, “I was having fun just exploring the songs with no preconceptions of what the music actually was yet or for that matter who we were as a trio yet, and that provided for unexpected and welcoming results.”With the inception of this project coming about organically and locally, Magner began to connect the project to food. As a press release explained,During the recording sessions, Magner would get in long, enjoyable talks about fresh produce (the kind you get at a farmer’s market), with his engineer, Will Maher, who has an extracurricular interest in field to consumer agriculture and independent food systems— and a passion for it. The more they talked about it, the more Magner began seeing the connection between the farm-to-table movement and his approach to this new project. It was all about roots. With an emphasis on the fresh and the organic.So when it came time to think about where to unveil this music live, Magner wanted something that would reflect the aesthetic behind it. In another extension of the synchronicity that has surrounded this project, Magner enlisted one his favorite local award-winning chefs, Yehuda Sichel, to host a gourmet prix-fixed meal in a barn just outside of Philadelphia. It turns out, the Chef is also a fan of The Disco Biscuits. Magner became enamored with the juxtaposition of putting a piano inside the barn, and he was excited about the unusual opportunity to connect a master chef’s culinary creations with his original compositions. It’s not dinner jazz by any means, but the textures and flavors of a farm-to-table meal are set to pair perfectly with the textures and flavors of Magner’s roots music.Thus, SPAGA will host its first culinary dinner, hosted by award-winning chef Yehuda Sichel, at Hill Girt Farm / SIW Vegetables in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. As noted by Aron Magner on SPAGA’s website,A prominent fixture on the farm is the barn, a structure that dates back to the 1600’s (with updates since) where they began doing summer Field to Fork dinners with local chefs using fresh vegetables grown on farm. This is where I decided to do the first performance of this new project. The juxtaposition of bringing a grand piano into a barn was appealing to me, as its complimentary to the setting, yet simultaneously makes no sense without context. Chef Yehuda Sichel and I first met at his restaurant, Abe Fisher, a few years ago. We have a mutual admiration for each other’s craft. I am thrilled to pair his culinary creations with my music as part of this event in an incredibly serene setting. The debut farm-to-table dinner and SPAGA performance will take place on October 5th, at 6:30 p.m., just outside of Magner’s hometown of Philadelphia. For more information on the band, head to the group’s website here, and for tickets to the dinner and concert, head here.
Banks DIH Limited has honoured 24 National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) students, whose parents are employees and shareholders with the company. The simple ceremony was held at the sports club of Thirst Park, Georgetown on Saturday.The children were all seated with their faces agleam with excitement and their proud parents besides them.Banks DIH communications manager Troy Peters disclosed during the ceremony that the bursary awards are an important event on the company’s calendar of activities since it demonstrates the commitment to the educational development of their shareholders and employees children.The bursary awardees along with Banks DIH Ltd officals at the Award ceremonyPeters told the children that they are being rewarded for the sacrifices they have made but also pointed out that this is just another stage of their educational pursuit. He encouraged them to keep climbing the ladder of success.He further added that Banks DIH recognises the sacrifices and dedication of parents and guardians, teachers and all the other persons who have contributed to the success of the awardees.Delivering the feature address was engineering executive of Banks DIH Gavin Todd, who was once an awardee himself and a recipient of a D’ Aguiar scholarship in 1989. He urged the students to continue striving for success: “Today Banks DIH Limited is joining with your loved ones saying thanks to you for showing us your potential strengths and potentials. We honour you with bursaries which will, among other things, assist you in secondary school over the next five years. We assemble so that we can reflect on your performances and importantly encourage you to think or even dream of much more successes.”He challenged the students who felt they could have got more out of their efforts but did not, to prove themselves and when the next opportunity presents itself. He noted that the success will be “sweeter”.“All of your next big date five years from now will go a far way towards shaping your future and that is why I am telling you today that the start is now. Go into that mould from which you will emerge with more success.” Todd encouraged.He further explained that Secondary School life will be a mixture of much fun and lasting memories but it must be punctuated with very serious work.