My Morning Jacket's One Big Holiday

My Morning Jacket's One Big Holiday

Portugal. The Man, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Spoon, Broken Social Scene, Toots & The Maytals, Preservation Hall Jazz Band (TWO Shows), Sylvan Esso, Moon Taxi, J Roddy Walston, Hurray For The Riff Raff

Fri, March 2, 2018 - Tue, March 6, 2018

12:00 pm

Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Punta Cana

Punta Cana, La Altagracia

This event is all ages

My Morning Jacket's One Big Holiday
My Morning Jacket's One Big Holiday
Details for One Big Holiday 2018 have arrived! Join My Morning Jacket for THREE NIGHTS March 2-6, 2018! Guests will also be treated to performances by Portugal. The Man, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Spoon, Broken Social Scene, Toots and the Maytals, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Sylvan Esso, Moon Taxi, J Roddy Walston and The Business, and Hurray for the Riff Raff. Get ready for the ultimate concert vacation at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino featuring all-inclusive accommodations and the best fans in the universe.
Returning Guest/Roll Call Pre-Sale: 7/25
Public On Sale: 7/26
More Info: http://mmjonebigholiday.com
My Morning Jacket
My Morning Jacket
“The new record, Circuital, is named after the title song,” explains Jim James, of My Morning Jacket’s sixth studio album. “On that song I sing about ending up in the same place where you started out. And that makes a lot of sense for this album… I hate the phrase ‘going back to our roots’, but for this record we came home and made it in Kentucky. And it just felt a lot like it did when we were first starting out...”

My Morning Jacket formed at the tail-end of the 1990s, when Jim James’ group Month Of Sundays folded, and he began recording new songs with ex-members of local rockers Winter Death Club. At Above The Cadillac Studios – in reality, a shed on the grounds of guitarist Johnny Quaid’s grandparents’ farm – the group took shape, drawing upon their rich knowledge of classic rock, country, soul and psychedelia, and spinning these influences into fresh, life-affirming rock’n’roll and aching, haunting balladry. My Morning Jacket made their early reputation off the three sublime albums they recorded at Above The Cadillac – 1999’s The Tennessee Fire, 2001’s At Dawn and 2003’s It Still Moves – and legendary live shows that proved here was a truly magical group for the ages. It Still Moves marked a move to the major labels for the group, while its heavy touring cycle prompted the amicable exit of Quaid and keyboardist Danny Cash from the ranks.

Album number four, 2004’s Z, was a brave step outside of the group’s comfort zone, recorded in New York’s Catskill Mountains with the aid of respected producer John Leckie (Stone Roses, Spiritualized), and with new members guitarist Carl Broemel and keyboard player Bo Koster making their debut appearances on tape, their skilful performances swiftly proving themselves cut from the same cloth as their bandmates. The album also saw James stretch his song-writing chops beyond the familiar reference points of My Morning Jacket’s earlier work, an impulse he furthered with 2008’s Evil Urges, which scattered the group’s ragged rockers and tender, keening ballads with subtly sensual grooves and tracks that sounded like heavy metal laced with psychedelic soul and feral funk. Both albums helped grow ever-swelling following, a grass-roots movement that’s spread like wildfire in the wake of their many long and glorious tours, and already-legendary shows like their 4-hour 2008 Bonnaroo head-lining performance, which captured one of the world’s greatest rock’n’roll groups at their most masterful and alive.

Circuital is the first album the group have made in Kentucky since It Still Moves, recording it in the gymnasium of a Louisville church under the aegis of producer Tucker Martine. Jim bonded with Martine while recording backing vocals for Laura Veirs’ 2010 album July Flame, which Martine, Veirs’ husband, also produced. “We hit it off right away,” says Martine, who later helped set up a home studio in James’ Louisville home, where he’s working on a future solo album. “As a group, we’ve always been hoping to find ‘our guy’,” says James. “And we’ve worked with some great people, but we’d wanted to find someone who was, like, ‘one of us’. And Tucker fit in perfectly, and he had a whole set of skills we didn’t possess. He’s real smart, and fun to be with.”

Converting the gymnasium into a recording studio wasn’t an easy task, says Martine, but the extra effort yielded unique results. “It’s a big project, to record in a space like that. It has so many limitations, compared to working in a modern studio, but they were limitations we were all drawn to. The focus became on communicating and interacting, and not on what modern trickery we could use later.” At the group’s insistence, the album was recorded live, with few overdubs;
James’ vocals were recorded at the same time as the band’s performances. “We were going for full takes; we wanted everybody running back to the control room afterwards, freaking out and wanting to listen back to the take,”remembers James. “We’re A Band, and so I want our records to be made that way, with us being A Band. Capturing performances, that intangible thing between us, some kind of soul. When friends have been through as much as we have together… It’s not something I could even describe. We wanted to capture the sound of us just playing, being in the same place and just feeding off each other.”

“This is truly a great band, and they play so well together, it would be wrong not to document that,” adds Martine. For James, the new album finds a sweet understanding between the questing creative impulses of Evil Urges and the more familiar feel of My Morning Jacket’s earlier work. “The album’s like a rolling, gentle soundwave,” he says, in comparison to Evil Urges’ jagged edges. “But I don’t feel Circuital sounds like our earlier recordings. We’re always trying to go in new directions.” His memories of the sessions for Circuital are only fond. “There was no AC, no-one had their laptops. We recorded everything on tape. It was like, we’re just who we are, with what we have with us at the moment, and that’s all we have. It was a beautiful thing, and it really cemented what we all mean to each other, as people and as a band. We’ve learned, slowly over the years, how to function more healthily, I guess, so we don’t all combust. Making this record, it felt like our friendship was only strengthened.”
Portugal. The Man
Portugal. The Man
Everything You Need To Know About Portugal. The Man’s New Album.

Well, we’re two full months into 2017 and the world continues to burn like an avalanche of flaming biohazard material sliding down a mountain of used needles into a canyon full of rat feces. But hey, it’s not all bad: Portugal. The Man has a new album coming out called Woodstock.

PTM’s last album came out over three years ago—a long gap for a band who’ve dropped roughly an album a year since 2006. And in true, prolific band fashion, they’ve spent almost every minute since 2013 working on an album called Gloomin + Doomin. They created a shit-ton of individual songs, but as a whole, none of them hung together in a way that felt right. Then John Gourley, PTM’s lead singer, made a trip home to Wasilla, Alaska, (Home of Portugal. The Man’s biggest fan, Sarah Palin) and two things happened that completely changed the album’s trajectory.

First, John got some parental tough love from his old man, who called John on the proverbial carpet or dogsled or whatever you put people on when you want to yell at them in Alaska. “What’s taking so long to finish the album?” John’s dad said. “Isn’t that what bands do? Write songs and then put them out?” Like fathers and unlicensed therapists tend to do, John’s dad cut him deep. The whole thing started John thinking about why the band seemed to be stuck on a musical elliptical machine from hell and, more importantly, about how to get off of it.

Second, fate stuck its wiener in John’s ear again when he found his dad’s ticket stub from the original 1969 Woodstock music festival. It seems like a small thing, but talking to his dad about Woodstock ’69 knocked something loose in John’s head. He realized that, in the same tradition of bands from that era, Portugal. The Man needed to speak out about the world crumbling around them. With these two ideas converging, the band made a seemingly bat-shit-crazy decision: they took all of the work they had done for the three years prior and they threw it out.

It wasn’t easy and there was the constant threat that the band’s record label might have them killed, but the totally insane decision paid off. With new, full-on, musical boners, the band went back to the studio—working with John Hill (In The Mountain In The Cloud), Danger Mouse (Evil Friends), Mike D (Everything Cool), and longtime collaborator Casey Bates (The one consistent producer since the first record). In this new-found creative territory, the album that became Woodstock rolled out naturally from there

Remember that mountain of burning needles we were talking about? Good. Because Woodstock is an album (Including the new single “Feel It Still”) that—with optimism and heart—points at the giant pile and says, “Hey, this pile is fucked up!” And if you think that pile is fucked up too, you owe it to yourself—hell, to all of us—to get out there and do something about it.
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats practically explodes with deep, primal and ecstatic soulfulness. This stunning work isn’t just soul stirring, it’s also soul baring, and the combination is absolutely devastating to behold. You don’t just listen to this record—you experience it. So it’s entirely fitting that the self-titled album will bear the iconic logo of Stax Records, because at certain moments Rateliff seems to be channeling soul greats like Otis Redding and Sam & Dave. But as this gifted multi-instrumentalist honors the legacy of the legendary Memphis label, he’s also setting out into audacious new territory.

Those who were beguiled by In Memory of Loss, Rateliff’s folky, bittersweet 2010 Rounder album, will be in for an initial shock when they spin Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. But when you delve beneath the rawboned surface of the new album’s wall-rattling presentation, with its deep-gut grooves, snaky guitars, churning Hammond and irresistible horns, you’ll find that same sensitive, introspective dude, who bravely tells it like it is, breaking through his reticence to expose often harsh truths about the life he’s lived, the people he’s hurt and the despair he’s struggled with. The difference between the two albums is that the Nights Sweats’ funkiness insulates the starkly confessional nature of Rateliff’s songs while at the same time underscoring their emotional extremes.

The place where Rateliff is coming from is intensely real and intimate. Doing what he does is an act of bravery. “These songs are about the struggles I’ve had in my life—drinking too much, that kind of crap,” he says with characteristic candor, punctuating the admission with a rueful laugh. “And then the relationships we all have. I’m not a great communicator in my personal life, so it’s funny to be writing songs that say the things that I’m never very good at saying. It’s taken me a long time to figure that out. I’m trying to be a better communicator, but it’s horribly awkward—it’s awful—to tell somebody something you know is gonna hurt their feelings. I’ve always been one to go, oh, I’ll just eat this one; it’ll be okay.”

As the band blazes away on the soul-rock rave-up “I Need Never Get Old,” the visceral “Howling at Nothing” and the supercharged “Trying So Hard Not to Know” (key line: “Who gives a damn and very few can”), which open the album with a sustained outpouring of torrid intensity, Rateliff is opening himself up emotionally as well as physically, the raw grit in his voice conveying anguish and hope in equal measure. The buoyant immediacy of the music makes the hard truths embedded in the songs easier to swallow than it would be in Rateliff’s other primary mode—a solitary guy with a guitar, the brim of his baseball cap pulled down, putting his heart and guts on the line without the protection of his simpatico cohorts. Make no mistake, these songs would stop you in their tracks presented in that naked way as well, but the additional layers of soulfulness provided by the Night Sweats—its core comprising guitarist Joseph Pope III, drummer Patrick Meese and keyboardist Mark Shusterman—bring a convergence of intensities, musical and psychological, to the performances.

“S.O.B.” sits at the dead center of the album, between the brutally honest confessionals “I’ve Been Failing” and “Wasted Time.” Thematically, the song is the album’s linchpin—partly a rebuke, partly a cry of defiance, “S.O.B” is the “fuck it all” anthem of a blue-collar kid from the Heartland whose conditioned idea of therapy is a shot and a beer chaser, and then another round, on the way to sweet oblivion. In live performance, Rateliff and the Sweats have been known to mash together “S.O.B.” and The Band’s “The Shape I’m In” as the double-barreled climax of their sets (you can find it on YouTube), the frontman high-stepping and boogalooing across the stage with controlled abandon, bearing a striking resemblance in his physicality to the young Van Morrison. These moments of revelry are also revelatory, singling out two of Rateliff’s biggest influences. Indeed, he hears distinct evocations of The Band on his new album, and he was listening to “TB Sheets” and the rest of Morrison’s The Bang Masters as he was writing it.

From there Rateliff contemplates some of the sustaining aspects of existence, from redemption by way of the forgiving love of another in “Thank You,” “Look It Here” and “I’d Be Waiting” to sexual heat in the N’awlins-style strutter “Shake.” The album ends on a hopeful note with the relatively laidback “Mellow Out,” which could certainly be heard as Rateliff admonishing himself to do just that. “Originally, I had it ending with a song called ‘How to Make Friends,’” he says. “The chorus is ‘When everybody knows you, nobody’s gonna want you.’” Another laugh follows, this one self-mocking. “But I replaced it with ‘Mellow Out,’ which is more of a release rather than a total bummer.”

When it came time to pick a producer, Rateliff went with Richard Swift, a polymath who has made records under his own name, helmed projects for Damien Jurado, the Mynabirds and others, and has played with The Black Keys and the Shins. Swift’s specialty is summoning (and capturing) inspired performances in the moment, and the synergy in the studio, first with Rateliff and then with his band, was instant and palpable. Rateliff and the Sweats already had the arrangements of the new songs down cold, having shaped them on the road. Swift, knowing a good thing when he heard it, set the mics, honed the sound, giving it plenty of space so that the studio itself served as an integral sonic component. Then he pressed “record” and coaxed it into happening organically. “Richard has such great ears, and he really knows how to play to the room,” Rateliff notes. “We have similar theories of recording: basically, you just need to play it right.”

Rateliff, who’s 36, traveled a long road to get to this point. He left school after his dad passed away at the end of 7th grade, left his home in the small town of Herman, Missouri, where his future would’ve likely involved endless shifts in a nearby plastic factory; and worked as a janitor for a high school. Not long afterward, he followed some local missionaries to Denver, thereby escaping what he describes as “the Midwestern lifestyle of working and growing up too fast.” He soon outgrew his childhood understanding of religion, realizing that “there are so many books out there besides that one,” as his worldview expanded exponentially. Rateliff spent the next 10 years on the loading dock of a trucking company before becoming a gardener and getting married along the way. But as the years passed, he became increasingly focused on writing songs and performing them at any watering hole that would have him, in time becoming part of the city’s burgeoning folk scene. “I got kind of a late start making music,” he says, “but eventually I went out on the road,” first with Born in the Flood, which he’d formed with Pope, and then The Wheel, the forerunner of the Night Sweats. By then, he’d overcome his longstanding discomfort at playing his songs in public.

“Writing at home is one of my favorite things to do,” says this constitutionally solitary man. “But for years touring was really hard for me—being alone, being married and having my relationship run through the mire, because a lot of my songs are about that. Sometimes it sucks to sing those songs and have to relive those situations. It leaves you pretty exposed, and your partner too; it can be unfair. But now I love being on stage and cracking jokes, trying not to take myself too seriously, even if the material is about failed relationships and alcoholism, that kind of stuff”—there’s that rueful laugh again.

“I try to be lighthearted,” Rateliff continues, “because, although the songs are heavy, I want it to be a release for people. I’m trying to do something that’s emotionally charged and heartfelt, and I want the experience to be joyous, for people to feel excited and dance around instead of being super-bummed by reality—I mean, things are hard. But I can remember dancing around to some song that was breakin’ my heart, dancin’ with tears in my eyes. I love that feeling, and I wanna share it with people, and hopefully they’ll feel it too.”
Spoon
Spoon
1) What was/is it about Spoon as a band that you find different, interesting, "worthy", etc.?

Great songs, inventive musicianship, a sense of humor, their attractive fans.

2) How would you describe Britt Daniel as a person, keeping along the same lines as question #1?

He's very tall. Also, he's male without making a big deal out of it, which I think is important in today's society.

3) How would you say that Spoon has evolved since the band's inception, and what would you hope to see in the band's future?

They've found consistently better looking bassists, which counts for a lot in today's shallow, fire-the-ugly members rock scene. Musically, they've been getting further and further away from a signature sound with each album, which is either very brave or very stupid, depending on how much money you've paid them to release their records in Upper Volta. But it's always about the songs -- Spoon took the "ifice" out of "artifice" a long time ago. I'm a little bitter that they didn't use that for a t-shirt or bumper sticker slogan.

But I would say if their albums got any better, I'd be embarrassed to play them on a moderately priced stereo. It's a little awkward right now, actually.
Broken Social Scene
Broken Social Scene
“I don’t want to go out there being presumptuous,” Kevin Drew says, “because, I’ve worn those presumptuous shoes before, and you don’t want it to feel like, ‘Oh, what a let-down.’” That’s the fear when you bring back one of music’s most beloved names seven years after their last album. But with Hug of Thunder, the fifth Broken Social Scene album, Drew and his bandmates have a right to feel presumptuous.

They have that right because they have created one of 2017’s most sparkling, multi-faceted albums. On Hug of Thunder the 15 members of Broken Social Scene – well, the 15 who play on the record, including returnees Leslie Feist and Emily Haines – refract their varying emotions, methods and techniques into something that doesn’t just equal their other albums, but surpasses them. It is righteous but warm, angry but loving, melodic but uncompromising. The title track on its own might just be the best thing you will hear all year – a song that will become as beloved as “Anthems For a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl” from their breakthrough album, You Forgot It In People .

Its title, Drew says, captured what he wanted people to feel about the group’s comeback, and how they sound playing together again: “It’s just such a wonderful sentiment about us, coming in like a hug of thunder.”

Broken Social Scene had reconvened, in varying forms, several times over the past four years – the odd festival show here and there, preferably ones that involved the least possible travelling. But the idea that they might turn their hand to something more than greatest-hits sets had been stirring since November 2014, when producer Joe Chiccarelli told Drew the group needed to make a new album.

“He started showing up at our label, asking if we were going to make an album,” Drew recalls. “He just didn’t give up; he just kept saying, ‘You’ve got to strike, you’ve got to do this, the time is now,’ and so finally we agreed.”

As might be expected to be the case with a many-headed hydra of a group, getting all the principals to agree wasn’t easy. Drew’s co-founder Brendan Canning was keen, but Drew and fellow BSS lifer Charles Spearin took more persuading. A turning point for Drew came with the Paris terror attacks of November 2015, which made him feel the world needed an injection of positivity: “It just sort of made us want to go out there and play. Because I think we’ve always been a band that’s been a celebration.“

Canning picks up the story: “By autumn of 2015 we had started getting together and trying some ideas out, just getting back in that jam space, in Charles’ garage. Then we set up shop in my living room and we were starting to come together in a very familiar kind of way, jamming in the living room, eating meals in the kitchen together, because that’s what the band is about: ‘Hey, let’s all get on the same page and get the energies flowing in the same direction.’”

Recording finally began in April 2016 at The Bathouse studio on the shores of Lake Ontario, with later sessions in Toronto and Montreal, before the group went right back to basics. “It was very beautiful the way that it ended in Charlie’s little rehearsal garage space,” Drew says, “after going to all these studios. We just worked there, doing back-up vocals and handclaps and all the shit we used to do when we were younger.” And then it was to Los Angeles, where the album was mixed.

The result is a panoramic, expansive album, 53 minutes that manages to be both epic and intimate. In troubled times it offers a serotonin rush of positivity: “Stay Happy” lives up to its title, with huge surges of brass that sound like sunshine bursting through clouds. “Gonna Get Better” makes a promise that the album is determined to deliver. That’s not to say it’s an escapist record: Broken Social Scene are completely engaged, wholly focussed, and not ignoring the darkness that lurks outside. But there is no hectoring, no lecturing, but a recognition of the confusion and ambiguity of the world. As the title track closes with Leslie Feist murmuring “There was a military base across the street,” the listener is caught in the division between the notional security provided by national defence, and the menace of the same thing.

The gestation of Hug of Thunder was no idyll. When You Forgot It in People made their name, Broken Social Scene were young men and women. Fifteen years on, they were adults in or on the cusp of middle age, and – as Drew puts it – “all the adult problems in the world were happening around us individually, whether it was divorce or cancer”. Three members of the band lost their fathers while the album was being recorded, “and it seemed like the days of going in the studio, getting stoned, drinking five beers and saying, ‘Who gives a fuck?’ were over”.

Then there’s the fact of the size of the ensemble, and the number of competing voices. “You don’t always get the final say with Broken Social Scene,” Canning says, with a certain degree of understatement. He compares the process of getting everyone to agree on a song to party politics: “It’s like you’re trying to get a bill passed through the House – you have to be really committed to wanting to win.”

But, still, if they were to return, it had to be with everybody, no matter if that meant things might get unwieldy. “I’d like to believe that Broken Social Scene can be whatever it can be,” Canning says, “but I think the fact we’d gone away for so long meant we really, we really couldn’t have done the same thing without everyone involved, you know?” The story of Broken Social Scene, he insists, was built on the involvement of everyone, and so if the story was to be continued, those same people had to return.

“The thing that has changed is that the relationships between us are established,” Drew suggests. “And in a family, you ebb and flow and you come and you go and you’re in love and then you’re annoyed – but it’s established now, the relationships aren’t going anywhere, you know? And I think through time, because we’ve been through so much together, personally and professionally, when we’re all on stage, everybody knows what they’re doing, everybody has a melody to back up someone else, you feel supported, you’re a crew, there’s nothing but protection all around you.”

Canning picks up the theme: “Before we were making this record, I said to everyone: ‘We all basically want the same thing, we might just have slightly different road-maps on how to get there. So how do we stray off on certain country roads but get back onto the main thoroughfare?’”

That Broken Social Scene were a family again, driving along the same main road, became apparent to UK fans in September 2016, when the group – with Ariel Engle the latest woman to assume the role of co-lead vocalist – came over for less than a handful of festival shows, to test the waters. Their Sunday teatime appearance at End Of The Road – an ecstatic hour of maximalist music, physically and emotionally overwhelming – ended up being one of the biggest hits of the festival. It achieved what Drew has always felt music needed to do: it created transcendence, a pocket of time where everyone present was living only in the moment.

“My 11 year old nephew asked me, ‘Uncle Kev, why do adults get drunk?’ and I looked at him and thought, ‘OK, brilliant question, I’m going to give a brilliant answer,’” Drew recalls. “And I looked at him for about 10 seconds and I said, ‘Because they want to feel like you. Because they want to feel like a kid again, they want to forget everything, they want to be innocent.’ We are built in a way now where you can’t do that, because you’re walking around with the anti-transcendence box in your pocket, and in your hand, and in your home, and on your bedside table: it’s the anti-transcendence. It’s called your phone! And we’re getting killed, we’re getting killed!”

So what do Broken Social Scene want listeners to take from Hug of Thunder ? Canning wants it to make them “pause for the cause and maybe just leave things in your life alone for 53 minutes”. For Drew, it’s about what it’s always been about: making the connection. “I just hope they understand that there’s others out there, that they’re not alone,” he says. “I know that’s silly! But you’d be surprised how many times I’ve had to tell people, ‘Hey, you’re not alone on this, you’re not alone thinking these things.’ I mean, with the title Hug of Thunder , I want to hold people. I want to fucking hold them. And when we do shows, I’m not: ‘Look at me, I’m elevated up on the stage,’ It’s: ‘We’re here with you, this is us together.’ Broken Social Scene is about the people, and it’s always been about the people.”
Toots & The Maytals
Toots & The Maytals
Jamaican musical group and one of the best known ska and reggae vocal groups, formed in the early 1960s.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band (TWO Shows)
Preservation Hall Jazz Band (TWO Shows)
Preservation Hall was founded in 1961 to promote traditional New Orleans jazz in all its authenticity. Legendary players like George Lewis, Sweet Emma Barrett and Kid Thomas Valentine, all rooted in the formative years jazz, were its original stars. That generation is long gone now, yet the hall is still in business and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band continues to tour the world.

Therein lies a paradox: how does an institution based on an early 20th century musical culture prosper in the 21st? When asked that question on the occasion of the Hall’s 50th anniversary, Creative Director Ben Jaffe had a ready answer: “This anniversary is about the next fifty years.”

For Jaffe, 41, this not just a business question: he’s carrying on a family tradition started by his parents, Allan and Sandra Jaffe, who were instrumental in founding the Hall and turning it into an internationally known cultural icon. When Ben took over the operation in 1995, he faced the challenge of keeping it going with a dwindling band of veteran musicians and an aging audience base. His solution has been to inject the touring band with new blood, bringing in some younger players with fresh musical ideas and to form collaborations with groups and musicians from outside the New Orleans tradition. In recent years, the PHJB has performed and recorded with a wide array of musicians, ranging from groups like My Morning Jacket, Tom Waits, Merle Haggard, Pete Seeger, and the Del McCoury Bluegrass Band. The culmination of this collaborative effort was the sellout 50th anniversary concert that the PHJB hosted at Carnegie Hall in January 2012.

This album breaks new ground for Ben and the PHJB: it’s the first time in the history of the band that it has recorded an album made up of entirely original material—most of it composed by Jaffe and members of his group. The album was co-produced by Ben Jaffe and Jim James, leader of My Morning Jacket, and encouraged by songwriters Paul Williams, Dan Wilson and Chris Stapleton, who co-wrote three of the titles with the band. Band members Charlie Gabriel, Rickie Monie, and Clint Maedgen also pitched in on some of the compositions.

Once the material was written and rehearsed, Jim James and his sound engineer Kevin Ratterman drove down from Louisville with a van full of equipment and set it up among the splintery wooden benches and smoky paintings in Preservation Hall. That recording session produced the eleven tracks on this historic album.

Though it was not unheard of in the past for Preservation Hall musicians to compose some of the music they performed—drummer Paul Barbarin wrote “Bourbon Street Parade” and clarinetist George Lewis wrote “Burgundy Street Blues,” for example—this album marks the first time that a substantial body of new music was created by the band and entered the Preservation Hall repertoire. This constitutes a rich lode of fresh material not only for the current members of the touring PHJB, but also for other musicians who play at the hall and may be inspired to pick up on some of these songs. In the heyday of the Jazz Age, New Orleans musicians learned new tunes all the time by listening to what their peers were doing in the dance halls and on their recordings. One of the aims of this album is to stimulate that kind of cross-pollination among today’s New Orleans jazzmen.

Though some traditional jazz purists may be surprised, the broader public will hopefully find this music engaging, enthralling—and irresistibly danceable. No one who hears Jaffe’s funky tuba lines, Joe Lastie’s backbeat drumming and the band’s groove on tunes like “The Darker it Gets” could doubt the group’s traditional New Orleans roots.

On the other hand, Clint Maedgen’s boozy “August Nights,” with it’s haunting tenor sax riffs and sultry muted trumpet work by Mark Braud, is a Tom Waits-like hymn to urban despair that would be at home on any barroom jukebox in the world. The punchy horn-section riffs on “Come With Me” and “That’s It” have a bite and exuberance that recall the Ellington big band sound. “I Think I Love You,” is a pop tune with a Caribbean beat and a smooth, sexy vocal by 80-year-old reedman Charlie Gabriel (with Jim James singing backup).

In addition to Gabriel, Ronell Johnson (“Dear Lord Give Me the Strength,” “Halfway Right, Halfway Wrong”) and Fred Lonzo (“Rattlin’ Bones”) turn in strong vocal performances that underscore the wide variety of talent this band embraces.

In short, “That’s It” is an eclectic album that draws on the collective experience of players nurtured in the New Orleans tradition but determined to build something fresh and exciting on that foundation. It marks an important milestone in Jaffe’s crusade to carry forward the Hall’s original mission while making it relevant to today’s audiences. For his part, co-producer Jim James is convinced that the PHJB has a future as vibrant as its past: “The music will speak forever,” he says. “Will people stop listening to Beethoven? Will people stop listening to Bob Dylan? Will people stop listening to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band?”

Not if Ben Jaffe can help it. “My parents were never preservationists in any strict sense,” he says. “They simply presented the music the way the old jazzmen wanted to play it. This is the music we want to play today. We’ll continue to do the old standards, along with new material that allows us to be creative and relevant. With this album, I wanted to do something that would challenge us and make us proud.” That’s it.
Sylvan Esso
Sylvan Esso
Sylvan Esso was not meant to be a band. Rather, Amelia Meath had written a song called “Play It Right” and sung it with her trio Mountain Man. She’d met Nick Sanborn, an electronic producer working under the name Made of Oak, in passing on a shared bill in a small club somewhere. She asked him to scramble it, to render her work his way. He did the obligatory remix, but he sensed that there was something more important here than a one-time handoff: Of all the songs Sanborn had ever recast, this was the first time he felt he’d added to the raw material without subtracting from it, as though, across the unseen wires of online file exchange, he’d found his new collaborator without even looking.

Meath felt it, too. Schedules aligned. Moves were made. And as 2012 slipped into 2013, Sanborn and Meath reconvened in the unlikely artistic hub of Durham, N.C., a former manufacturing town with cheap rent and good food. Sylvan Esso became a band. A year later, their self-titled debut—a collection of vivid addictions concerning suffering and love, darkness and deliverance—arrives as a necessary pop balm, an album stuffed with songs that don’t suffer the longstanding complications of that term.

These 10 tunes were realized and recorded in Sanborn’s Durham bedroom during the last year, an impressive feat considering the layers of activity and effects that populate them—the dizzyingly crisscrossed harmonies of “Play it Right,” the gorgeously incongruous elements of “Wolf,” the surreptitiously minimalist momentum of “HSKT.” Sanborn’s production is fully modern and wonderfully active. He enlists obliterating dubstep stutters and crisp electropop pulses, hazy electrostatic breezes and epinephrine dancefloor turnarounds.

But this isn’t a workout in production skills or a demonstration of electronic erudition. Instead, his music syncs seamlessly with Meath’s melodies, so that the respective words and beats become a string of ready-to-play singles. The irrepressible “Hey Mami” webs handclaps and harmonies around a flood of bass, a strangely perfect canvas for a tale of dudes hollering at neighborhood tail (and, finally, finding the chivalry not to do so). “Coffee” sparkles and quakes, patiently rising from a muted spell of seasonal affective disorder to a sweet rupture of schoolyard glee. These pop cuts condescend neither to their audience nor their makers. They are sophisticated, but with none of the arrogance that can imply; they are addictive, but with none of the banality that can entail. There is sensuality and sexual depravity, homesickness and wanderlust, nostalgia and immediacy. Sylvan Esso acknowledges that the world is a tumult of complications by giving you a way to sing and dance with those troubles, if not to will them away altogether.

When Meath and Sanborn talk about Sylvan Esso, they come back to context—to how, before this project, they felt that their solo endeavors often felt short of it, as if they were lacking a crucial component. That is no longer a concern. When Meath sings to Sanborn a melody that she’s conjured and captured, he almost instinctively knows how to respond. And when he delivers to her the backbone of a wordless beat, she adds lyrical bait where he’d only seen white space. Sylvan Esso represents the fulfillment of their fortuitous encounter by, once again, linking parts that too often come stripped of their counterparts. Here, motion comes with melody. Words come with ideas. And above all, pop comes back with candor.
Moon Taxi
Moon Taxi
Indie rock band from Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Hurray For The Riff Raff
Hurray For The Riff Raff
Folk-blues/Americana band from New Orleans, Louisiana, USA founded in 2007.
Venue Information:
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Punta Cana
Km 28, #74, Bv. Turístico del Este
Punta Cana, La Altagracia, 23000