BlindDog Entertainment LLC presents
Fri, Aug 31
Sun, Sep 2
2012 Snowy Range Music Festival 3 DAY PASS
Dr. John and The Lower 911, Jon Cleary, Macy Gray, Bobby Rush
3520 US Highway 287
Laramie, WY, 82051
Doors 4:00PM / Show 4:00PM
This event is all ages
Dr. John and The Lower 911
Dr. John, or Mac Rebennack as he's known to friends and family, is universally celebrated as the living embodiment of the rich musical heritage exclusive to New Orleans. His very colorful musical career began in the 1950s when he wrote and played guitar on some of the greatest records to come out of the Crescent City, including recordings by Professor Longhair, Art Neville, Joe Tex and Frankie Ford.
Adorned with voodoo charms and regalia, a legend was born with his breakthrough 1968 album Gris-gris, which established his unique blend of voodoo mysticism, funk, rhythm & blues, psychedelic rock and Creole roots.
He continues to dazzle and delight audiences across the globe touring consistently. In fact, Dr. John is at the height of his creative output right now, having recently released grandly-conceived tribute albums to Duke Ellington and Johnny Mercer, and having famously revived his full-blown, magnificently-costumed 'Dr. John, the Night Tripper' stage persona in June 2006 at the Bonnaroo Music Festival.
Dr. John has several Grammy wins to his name, and in 2004 his musical love letter to the city of New Orleans, "N'awlinz Dis Dat or D'udda," was awarded the prestigious Académie Charles Cros 57ème Palmarès award in France. His newest album is the Grammy nominated "Tribal" (2010), and Dr. John was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. He will give a special performance at Bonnaroo this year, playing his landmark 1974 album (and festival namesake) 'Desitively Bonnaroo' in its entirety.
Born in England and bred in New Orleans, Jon Cleary is a triple threat combining soulful vocals, masterful piano skills, and a knack for composing infectious grooves with melodic hooks and sharp lyrics. He balances performing on solo piano, with his trio, and with noted funk band The Absolute Monster Gentlemen, alongside a career as a notorious hired gun with the likes of Bonnie Raitt and John Scofield. He recently recorded the forthcoming gospel album John Scofield & The Piety Street Band, which will be released in the spring of 2009. Cleary has toured with Bonnie Raitt since 1999, and has appeared on the albums Silver Lining and Souls Alike. On these recordings, Raitt covered the Cleary originals, “Fool’s Game,” “Monkey Business,” “Unnecessarily Mercenary,” and ”Love on One Condition.”
Cleary has produced five recordings to date including his latest, a live recording from Sydney, Australia called Mo Hippa, which features a mix of the styles that inform the New Orleans’ sound -- from island rhythms, to soul-drenched funk jams, to Mardi Gras Indian street-parades. Prior to this he released Pin Your Spin (2004), Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen (2002), Moonburn (1999), and Alligator Lips & Dirty Rice (1994). Cleary has a long list of recording credits with artists such as Taj Mahal, Keb Mo, India Arie, and Ryan Adams. For more information
"These were songs that I would've probably written in another life," says Macy Gray in her trademark rasp. She's been asked to identify the common denominator linking the wildly varied songs on Covered, her stunning new collection of cover songs. "And," she continues, "they're almost all these kind of dark love songs, which is the mood I'm in right now – to sing these I-wanna-slit-my-wrists-but-I-love-you songs. They already said what I want to say, perfectly."
To the casual music fan, Macy Gray tackling a covers album might seem wholly out of left field – especially since the material she chose to reinterpret is largely drawn from indie rock tunes made over the last decade or so. (Exceptions are Eurythmics' "Here Comes the Rain Again," from 1984, and Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters," from 1992.) But Covered is not your typical covers album. It deftly redefines what such an undertaking is and can be, which makes it very much a Macy Gray project.
A gifted songwriter and dazzlingly singular singer, the mom of three teenagers has been overturning fan expectation and industry formula since kicking off her music career with her debut 1999 CD, On How Life Is. That musical calling card spawned the classic single "I Try," and both the CD and single were massive global hits. They kicked off a career ride that includes two Grammys, two MTV awards, over 15 million units sold, and a thriving acting career.
What awards and sales figures fail to illustrate is the depth and breadth of Macy's artistry. In an industry that is increasingly stifling of real artists, she's forged her own vision, creating music that leaps genre barriers from experimental soul to alternative rock, from retro-disco to hip-hop. Her artistic integrity and innovativeness has won her fans across the world, including artists such as John Frusciante, Erykah Badu, Gang Starr, Mos Def, and Pharoah Monche, all of whom have collaborated with her.
And Covered shows her at a creative peak.
Where many such albums are safe, formulaic exercises in reviving standards or jumpstarting jazz warhorses, Macy and producer Hal Willner (Lou Reed, Marianne Faithfull, Laurie Anderson) opted for more biting, contemporary fare. But though they had (and have) a marvelously smooth working relationship, the making of Covered wasn't without its pause-inducing moments, especially at the beginning of the process.
"Before we started recording, recalls Macy, "I got obsessed with Nina Simone's version of 'My Way.' She didn't worry about what people would think or how they would compare it to anybody else. I saw how she just took that song and every song she ever did, and made them her own. So, I went in with the confidence that we could do whatever we wanted.
The result is a collection that wittily reimagines songs that are already much beloved by their target demographic fans. Covered manages to retain the emotional honesty of those songs while artfully reconfiguring the musical contexts, and clearing space for Macy to place her indelible stamp on them.
Willner's and Gray's "Here Comes the Rain Again," replaces Eurythmics' familiar chilled despair with a more palpably vulnerable ache as the music sweeps along moodily and cinematically. Arcade Fire's "Wake Up" starts off plaintively, and then slowly unfolds into a rousing, genre-bending anthem whose indie rock inflections give way to African flavored percussion and a swooping choir. My Chemical Romance's "Teenagers" has been subversively overhauled, transformed from an angry adolescent joust about the ways society hamstrings and abuses its youth, to the ways teenagers torture everyone around them – especially their parents.
"I remember when 'Teenagers' first came out," says Macy, "and I was struck by this kind of Duke Ellington feel to it. The melody was always such a jazz thing. So when we were talking about this album, I immediately thought about that song. But when I read the lyrics, they didn't have anything to do with me at all. I got the idea to switch it up and make it more relevant to something that I would say. I re-wrote it from a mom's point of view. It worked out perfectly; it makes sense both ways."
Sublime's cover version of "Two Joints" is the inspiration for Macy's take on it. It's given a soft reggae undertow and is now (at least in part) a sly, tongue-in-cheek nod toward Macy's own public persona, and there's a clever interpolation of the Rare Earth classic, "I Want to Celebrate," at the song's end. Radiohead's iconic "Creep" was lifted by Macy a few years back and integrated into her live set, so longtime fans already think of her as co-owner of it. The studio version takes the tune's self-flagellation to a new level of emotional brutality.
While Macy's mastery of these songs (and others, including Kanye West's "Love Lockdown) may surprise people who haven't been playing close attention, the artistic triumph won't come as a surprise to longtime fans with discerning ears. They know that the singer-songwriter long ago proved she was capable of everything from moody pop to exuberant disco. But Macy, while justifiably proud of Covered, is also characteristically modest and low-key when assessing it.
"It's cool," she chuckles. "Everybody just went in and poured their hearts out. It was a really relaxed atmosphere when we were recording, and good things come out of people when they're in a good atmosphere."
At a time when most of his contemporaries are resting on their laurels, Bobby Rush—a 50-year veteran of the stage—remains one of the most exciting and creative artists in the R&B/blues arena. Rush's live shows are without parallel, replete with costume changes and comedic sketches acted out with the assistance of his lovely female dancers. In addressing a broad range of matters of the heart, Rush adopts various onstage persona-the adoring lover, the cuckold, the boastful stud-delivering all with a knowing wink that assures the audience that he's in on the joke.
In the context of today's all too predictable and sanitized blues market, it's easy to understand why audiences new to Rush's performances often find them novel or even bewildering. Unique they are, but Rush's signifying, jesting, and double entendré jiving are at the heart of the blues, as exemplified by forbears such as Bessie Smith,Louis Jordan, and Howlin' Wolf.
Bobby Rush—it's pronounced as one three-syllable name—calls his music "folk funk," an apt description for a blend that's both decidedly modern and deeply rooted in tradition. Over the decades he has consistently updated his music by incorporating new styles-- Chicago blues, soul, funk, reggae, and hip-hop—into a fresh mix. At the same time, his original compositions often stem from his dipping into the well of folk wisdom, as exemplified by songs like "What's Good For the Goose is Good for the Gander Too."
The son of a preacher man, Bobby Rush was born Emmet Ellis, Jr.,in the north Louisiana town of Haynesville; he later adopted his stage name out of respect for his father. He built his first instrument, a primitive guitar or "diddley bow," and by his early teens he was donning a fake mustache and appearing at Deep South juke joints. In the mid-'50s he moved to Chicago, where his bands included Freddie King, Earl Hooker, and Luther Allison, and on jaunts back to his family home in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, he performed with artists including Elmore James.
Rush began working as a bandleader already as a teenager once he realized that he could control his own destiny if he owned all the equipment. His entrepreneurial flair is legendary among fellow musicians, who fondly recall his earing double pay by working in disguise as the emcee on his own gigs, and his shuffling between three gigs a night at West Side nightclubs.
Rush's popularity as a live performer in Chicago set back the development of his recording career, but he began to achieve national acclaim in 1971 following the success of his hit "Chicken Heads" on Galaxy Records. Over the next decade he recorded for labels including Jewel, Philadelphia International, Warner Brothers, and toured widely on the "chitlin circuit," the decades old network of clubs that stretches in a rough triangle between east Texas, north Florida, and Chicago.
In the early '80s Rush moved to his current home of Jackson, Mississippi, where he recorded a series of albums for the LeJam, Ichiban, and Malaco labels, and gained the title of "king of the chitlin circuit" in the wake of hits including "Sue," "Wearin' It Out," "Ain't Studdin' You," and "Hoochie Man."
In 2003 Rush fulfilled his longtime dream of forming his own label, Deep Rush, recording the CD "Undercover Lover" and capturing the magic of his live show on DVD at the club Ground Zero in Clarksdale, Mississippi. The same year his showmanship was featured in Richard Pearce's documentary film "The Road To Memphis," part of Martin Scorsese's film series "The Blues."
Rush has also demonstrated his deep blues roots in the last several years through several special recording projects on Deep Rush On 2004's "Folk Funk" he revisited the funk era on a live studio outing with guitarist Alvin Youngblood Hart, and on his most recent CD "Raw" he strips his sound down to the basics, appearing only with his guitar and harmonica. Although he still maintains a busy schedule with his band, these sessions have inspired him to make occasional solo performances, which have been wonderfully received.
In the last decade Rush has gained new audiences through performances at the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, and on festival stages in Europe and Japan. But catch him on an average weekend and he's just as likely to be playing to packed houses in chitlin circuit clubs in places like Nesbit, Mississippi, and Smackover, Arkansas, before mostly black, working class audiences that conventional blues wisdom suggests no longer exist.
Success in the music business often entails leaving behind the people who sustained you during your early years, but that's not a price Bobby Rush is willing to pay. As his career takes off in new directions, he's determined to keep it real, presenting the same unadulterated show as he moves from Tokyo to Smackover. Or as he explains in what has become somewhat a mantra of late, "I want to cross over, not cross out."