2014 Year In Review- Part 3: Top Live Shows

Crowd - TTB @ Keswick Theatre 12/5/14

Every year end I sit down and realized how great it is to live in a city that loves the arts. The music scene is so vibrant in Philly that many times it is hard to choose what to see on a given night. I’ve been here long enough to know you can never see em all. One can only hope to catch a band or an artist on a night that the energy is high, musical artistry and creativity are working at peak performance. Sharing in a moment like that, ‘hitting the note’ as they call it, is truly something special. Here are my favorite live shows of 2014..


Leon Russell @ Keswick 1/10/14

Hot Tuna @ Keswick 1/10/14

Mason Porter @ Ardmore Music Hall

Experience Hendrix @ Keswick 3/21/14

The Hard Pans @ Dan’s Silver Leaf -Denton TX 5/9/14

Jamie Cullum @ Keswick 5/29/14

Taj Mahal @ Keswick 6/19/14

Sturgill Simpson @ Philly Folk Fest 8/14/14

Jason Isbell @ Philly Folk Fest 8/15/14

El Caribefunk @ Philly Folk Fest 8/15/14

Poor Old Shine (Parsonfield) @ Philly Folk Fest 8/15/14

NAS @ Keswick 10/5/14

Charlie Daniels Band @ Keswick 10/23/14

Ages and Ages @ Milkboy Philly 10/25/14

Hot Rize w/ David Grisman and Del McCoury @ Keswick 11/13/14

Tedeschi Trucks Band @ Keswick 12/5/14


The Hard Pans






Tedeschi Trucks Band @ The Keswick – Dec 4-6 2014

TTB live

This band is top notch. Whenever I think I’ve heard something, or I’ve heard them play a song before, they change it up. I’ve seen TTB several times now, and what’s most incredible is that they seem to be able to bring something new and amazing each time. Their improvisation skills are impeccable. They don’t even play the same song, the same way twice. During this epic 3-night run at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside PA I saw them play 3 different set lists with a different opener each night.

Right now they are playing a ton of new songs and from what I’ve heard, its a solid batch. Looking forward to a new album sometime next year.

It’s great knowing that a band like this is still finding different and ever-changing ways to stay exciting. They will be doing their thing for years to come and I will keep following wherever they may go.

Here’s the setlist from night #2 (amy ray from indigo girls opener) –


All That I Need

In Every Heart (new one)

Get What You Deserve (Derek Trucks Band song)

Midnight In Harlem

Break In The Road (new one)



Calling Out To You

Rollin and Tumblin

Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright (With Amy Ray) (Bob Dylan song)


Let Me Get By (new one)

Anyhow (new one)

The Sky Is Crying

Bound For Glory

The Storm



Fire and Rain (James Taylor)

Space Captain (Joe Cocker)



2013 Year In Review: Top 10 Live Shows

Mayer Hawthorne


One of my favorite things about doing this Shady Groove thing, living in the Philadelphia area, and being friends with the Keswick Theatre, is that I get to go see a ton of live music. Here’s my favorite concerts of the year:


10. Cyndi Lauper @ The Keswick Theatre – November 15

A Sellout crowd poured in for the 30th anniversary of “She’s So Unusual”. Cyndi talked at length about the origin and making of each of the songs off of the huge album from 1981. Radio songs of my youth. It was great to hear her speak about pop music and its roots. This album actually originated in the Philly area, with the Hooters playing the music and them jamming in a warehouse in Manayunk, PA. Cool stuff.

9. Zappa Plays Zappa @ The Keswick Theatre – October 16

Dweezil and friends killed it as they recreated dad Frank’s “Roxy and Elsewhere” album.

8. Michael McDonald @ The Keswick Theatre – December 7

Iconic songs and soulful sounds bellowed from the stage at this show. Love Michael McDonald. It was worth it to see every 40 something adult stand and sing all of the lyrics to “What A Fool Believes”.

7. Colin Meloy @ The Keswick Theatre – November 2

The Decemberists front man played an intimate solo show at the Keswick and rocked the house.

6. Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band @ Philly Folk Fest – August 18

Funny because the band consists of just 3 members. But the sound is big. Rev Peyton rips the slide guitar and Ben “bird dog” Bussell keeps the rhythm driving. It makes for some highly danceable music.

5. Richard Thompson @ Philly Folk Fest – August 17

His mind-blowing guitar and thoughtful lyrics are always on display when you see Richard Thompson. This show was no exception.

4. Avett Brothers and Trombone Shorty @ The Mann Center – September 14

Gotta love a double bill like this. Trombone Shorty never disappoints. And as much as I complain about the Avett Brothers new stuff, its really pretty good. Plus their live presence is unmistakable.

3. Mayer Hawthorne @ Union Transfer – September 7

Mayer brought his brand of new-age motown/hip hop/soul to the Union Transfer and rocked the house down. Great show.

2. Spirit Family Reunion @ Philly Folk Fest – August 16

This band blew me away at the Folk Fest this year. My favorite new (to me) band of the year.

1. Jimmy Cliff @ The Keswick Theatre – September 29

An absolutely amazing performance. A sublime experience. I waited all year and my whole life to see this show. Jimmy lost not a beat over the years. I originally thought this show would be mainly promoting his 2012 grammy-winning album, Rebirth. And he did play a couple of tunes off of that album. But he played the hits and he played them well. And it wasn’t just his hits but hits from reggae as a musical genre. This show was a chronology of the songs and ideas that made reggae popular, played narrated by one of its founding fathers.



Honorable Mention:

– Billy Bragg @ The Keswick Theatre – April 20

Perennial folk hero played us some awesome tunes at the Keswick.

– Joe Pug @ Johnny Brenda’s – May 1

Always a treat to hear one of my favorite new (ish) folk writers. Plus I love Johnny Brenda’s.

– Hogmaw and Dom Flemons @ Philly Folk Fest – August 17

I had the pleasure of helping run the Culture Tent at this years Folk Fest and this was one of the highlights. Dom (of the Carolina Chocolate Drops) produced Hogmaw’s new album. So the band and Dom were on the Culture Tent stage playing and explaining the though process behind the album.




Philly Folk Fest lineup

Hey there boys and girls. The 52nd annual Philadelphia Folk Fest is only a couple weeks away and I couldn’t be happier. Fest is one of my favorite times of year! Tickets are still on sale but they are going fast. It will sell out so get ’em today!

Here is this years lineup:

Richard Thompson Electric Trio – Todd Rundgren – The Mavericks– Carolina Chocolate Drops– David Bromberg – Asleep At the Wheel – Jake Shimabukuro – David Uosikkinen’s In the Pocket:  The Essential Songs of Philadelphia – Black Prairie – Luella & The Sun – Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band – Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars – Spirit Family Reunion – Sleepy Man Banjo Boy s – The Stray Birds – Star & Micey – Otis Taylor – Caravan of Thieves – Amy Helm – Jeffrey Gaines – Gabe Butterfield – Ellis Paul – Del Barber – The Como Mamas – Ben Arnold – Burning Bridget Cleary – Andy Statman Project – Ben Vaughn – RUNA – David Francey – Frank Fairfield – Joe Crookston & the BlueBird Jubilee – The Toy Hearts – The Amigos Band – Mark Silver & the Stonethrowers – Mike ‘Slo-Mo’ Brenner – XPN Philly Local with Helen Leicht featuring Ali Wadsworth, Juston Stens and the Get Real Gang, Modern Inventors, Ginger Coyle – Steam Powered Areo Band (w/Phil D’Agostino, Brad Hinton and more) – The Lawsuits – Toy Soldiers – Great Groove Band – Dennis Hangey – The Hula Honeys – Give and Take Jugglers – and your legendary host Gene Shay!

Recent additions to the lineup include:

David Amram – John Francis – Steve Guyger – John Flynn, Sarah Flynn, and Sean Flynn – New Sweden – Ursula Rucker & Tim Motzer – Saul Broudy – Mike Miller – Reverend TJ McGlinchey – Mike & Ruthie – HogMaw – Psych-A-Billy – Jersey Corn Pickers – Hennessey Bonfire – Bob Beach – Manatawny Creek Ramblers – Marc Silver & the Stonethrowers – Spuyten Duyvil – Ansel Barnum – Seth Holzman – Lily Mae – Dani Mari – The Karmic Repair Company – Michael Braunfeld – Allan Carr – Annie Bauerlein & Chip Mergott – The Whiskeyhickon Boys – Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer – Charlie Miller, Scott Rovner & Friends – Eric Abraham – Jason Hahn – Matt Sowell – Jerry Hionis – Jim Albertson – John Fuhr – Lord Jacob and the Ukuladies – Lost Indian – Mark Schultz – Mist Covered Mountains – Shawn Proctor – Sid Root – Beakey w/ Special Guests – Up the Chain – Sweetbriar Rose- Tracy Degerberg


Can’t wait to let the Festivities begin! See ya there…..


Tedeschi Trucks Band: Keswick Theatre 11/27-11/28

Tedeschi Trucks Band just dropped their second show in a legendary two-night stand at the historic Keswick Theatre in Glenside, PA.
This band is more that just the hottest husband wife duo in the country. They are much much more than that. The band features dynamite horns, a great rhythm section with George Porter Jr. on bass, two full drum sets, Kofi Burbridge on keys and flute, and Mike Mattison on background vocals. One thing’s for sure, this was not the Derek Trucks show; nor did Susan Tedeschi steal the show, although she can slay the guitar like the best of them. This is a big band that is as tight as a skirt on a hooker. They came to play. And play they did, taking us through some of their seasoned favorites as well as some classic covers. Their sound is a blend of cajun, soul, blues, r&b, and rock and roll. Most of the songs they played are on their most recent album, “Everybody’s Talkin'”.
One of the things I liked most about the Tedeschi Trucks Band is the fact that all of the respective artists know their place in the band. Not one outshines another. It’s pretty cool that in one of the standout tunes, the Stevie Wonder penned “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” Derek Trucks does not even have a solo. Not that I don’t love his guitar playing and think his slide guitar work is second to none, it just shows that they put the sound first. If it feels good, play it. Sometimes less is more. I’m a big fan of low and slow and both Susan and Derek can be great even when they are playing at their quietest. Then they build the jam.
It’s great to see a band hittin’ the note  like the Tedeschi Trucks Band did these last two nights.
Night #1
Everybody’s Talkin’
Wah Wah (George Harrison)
The Sky Is Crying (Elmore James)
Midnight In Harlem
Don’t Let Me Slide
Rollin’ and Tumblin’ (
Wade In The Water (old spiritual song) >>
Funky Jam intro>>
Love Has Something Else to Say
That Did It
Old Time Lovin’ (Al Green)
Uptight (Stevie Wonder)
Drum Solo
Sweet Inspiration (Spooner Oldham)
I Know
Bound For Glory
Night #2
Don’t Let Me Slide
Wah Wah (George Harrison)
That Did It (Bobby Bland)
I Know
Ain’t No Use (The Meters)
Sweet Inspiration (Spooner Oldham)
Midnight In Harlem
The Sky Is Crying (Elmore James)
Wade In The Water >>
Funky Jam intro>>
Love Has Something Else To Say
Old Time Lovin’ (Al Green)
Uptight (Stevie Wonder)
Drum Solo
Angel From Montgomery (John Prine)
Get What You Deserve