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Entries in music (8)


Almost Famous (almost) in Aspen with THE REVIVALISTS.

The Revivalists in AspenEverybody wants to be a rockstar...right? Last night in Aspen, I almost got my chance. Almost.

The Revivalists, a very popular roots-based rock band from New Orleans were in Aspen for a sold out show at the Belly Up.   The buzz on the gondola was that The Revivalists is a "do not miss" show. I've conquered FOMO, but I still like to rock....so I set out to find a ticket, but there were no extras floating around.  The show was SOLD OUT.


The Revivalists are hot. Click their site. 




As it turns out my new Aspen friend, the super-hot Elexa Ruth had a connection to the band.  She invited me to a private meet and greet before the show with The Revivalists to benefit The Roots of Music, a non-profit in New Orleans. The Roots of Music in an organization that offers music education to students in the Crescent City and fills a void in music education for 100's of aspiring young musicians every year. As I learned, Elexa and The Revivalists are big, big supporters of The Roots Of Music. (Click to learn more).  The small group raised more than $10,000 last night.

Meet and greets are my specialty.  I made the scene, met the band, had some cheese and crackers, took a few pix. Then I set out in earnest to score a ticket to the sold out show. No luck.  When lead guitarist Zack Feinberg learned that I was a "big-time" blogger...he offered to put me on The Revivalist's guest list.  "Really??" I exclaimed.  Zack said "no problem" and introduced me to the band's tour manager and told him to "put this guy on the list".  The manager explained that they were already 13 people over their guest list capacity and "there's nothing I can do".   I was bummed.   Zack said "don't worry...I'll walk you in". Wow !!  Not only was Zack rumored to be a great guitarist, he is a very nice guy...and he was going out of his way to accommodate me.  I immediately liked him..a lot.

As the meet and greet wound down, Zack signaled me to follow him and we walked over to The Belly Up together. Keep in mind,  I've been to over 100 shows at Belly Up...so I knew that they can be kind of uptight in many ways. Belly Up makes the rules...and the everybody is required to follow them...or else.  Running a small venue like Belly Up is very difficult and I respect the fact that they run a tight ship.  While I've never really had any problems at Belly Up in the past...I've never felt completely welcomed there either.  Some local businesses embrace AspenSpin, Belly Up has never really been one of them.  Over the years,  I've manged to get on the artist's guest list a few times, I even had all access passes a couple times, and even medicated in the green room on one occasion.  But I know Belly Up is very tough...so I figured "walking in" with Zack (no ticket, no sticker, no wrist band) was a tenuous situation at best.

As we approached the door Zack said "act like you've been there before". I nodded. Zack did not realize, I have been there before.  It was go time.  Zack flashed his all access laminate and said "he's with me". I smiled and purpose-walked past the entry and security.  Poof...just like that...I was in the door. I was "with the band".  As we strolled through venue towards the stage, Zack and I shared a self congratulatory hand slap and he said "see, you're with the band."  For about 30 seconds I had my "almost famous" moment. There was a brief sense of relief.  I was in...niiiiice. That was until a giant bouncer with a walkie-talkie ear piece tapped me on the shoulder and said "you can't just walk in like that".  I looked at him in silence.  Zach attempted to defend me by pleading "he's with the band, he's press".  The security guy asked "is his name was on the list?"  I remained silent.  Zach looked at him and bro-ed him out and said " c'mon?, he's with me".  The Belly Up guy said firmly..."if he's not on the list, he's out" and he officiously walked me toward the door.  Zack shrugged his shoulders and said, "sorry, dude...I tried".

Meet and Greet for The Roots of Music in New Orleans.I was was out on the street with no ticket. Luckily with a little hustle and a few extra bucks I managed to scalp a ticket out front.   Boom!!!  Yah, dude...I'm legit...a full-on ticket holder.  

As is my custom...I set up shop in the front row in order to snap a few  sick pix.  Zack was tuning up on-stage, he seemed glad to see me and gave me a high five.   The show started and I began doing my thing...making magic happen with my lens.  I've shot pix at every single show I've ever attended at Belly Up...over 100.  All of a sudden a different giant Belly Up guy tapped me on the shoulder and ordered "no cameras".  I replied "I'm not using a flash".  He stated firmly...."no cameras...only phones".    I have a very powerful camera...but its not a phone.  Its small, smaller than a phone.  We walked off to the side and I politely shared that I had been shooting pix in Belly Up for 10 years with a camera, without inccident and I never had an issue before.  "Is it a new policy?" I asked.  He called his manager over...who happened to be the same guy who had kicked me out before.  I explained to him who I was and shared with him the viral power that is AspenSpin. He was very polite and said I needed clearance before I could shoot. At this point I was grasping for straws. I shouted "Goldberg knows me!!!".  He said "I'll check". I'm not sure how, but  within a couple minutes...I was good to go. "Go ahead, take some pictures" laughed  my new bouncer friend and we shared a fist bump.

The show was awesome.  The band was tight.  Zach is a virtuoso guitar player.  Lead singer David Shaw led the crowd into a frenzy with his soulful voice. The horns, the keys, the steel guitar all join together in a beautful, Revivalist-style symphony.  The Revivalists are hot.   The southern-style rock and funk fusion was a total jam.   It's always great to go into a show with zero knowledge of a band's work...and leave that show as a true fan.  I highly reccomend seeing The Revivalists if they come to your town.  You can also listen to their new album Men Amongst Moutains on spotify or pandora or I-tunes...but take if from me seeing them live is truly the way to go.  I reccomend the front row.  Turn dat sh*t up to 11.

It was a good night, a tremendous rock show from The Revivalists.  Thanks to The Roots of Music, Elexa, Zack and even to the guys at Belly Up...who only kicked me out once.  

It was my almost famous moment...almost.  


David Shaw , lead singer of The Revivalists with Anne and Elexa.

Zack Feinberg lead guitarist for The Revivalists.Full-on Jam sesh in Aspen with Revivalists.


Elephant Revival at Belly Up


Do Not Miss   



Top 10 Moments at X Games Aspen 2015

Photo: ESPN Images via TwitterIt was the most massive and insane X Games of all-time.  Records were shattered across the board.  It was unbelievably awesome and Aspen was pumped and stoke to play host.  Andy Party of AspenSpin is a 10 year X Games vet.  He has chosen the TOP 10 Moments of X Games Aspen 2015.


1) Danny Davis out-styles the best riders in the world to win Snowboard Superpipe. (Vid).

2) Snoop Dogg goes P.I.M.P.  (pix by A. Party).

3) BIG AIR SKI    Go Pro course preview by Bobby Brown (Vid)

4) BIG AIR Snowboard  Massive Mark McMorris (Vid) and doubles up in Slopestyle (Vid 2)

5) Heath Frisby wins his 10th X Games Medal / Snowmobile Long Jump  (Vid)

6) Chloe Kim the Future of Snowboarding grabs Gold. (Vid).

7) Simon D'Artois strikes Gold in Ski Superpipe.  (Vid)

8) Chris Devlin-Young wins Gold at 53 in Mono Ski X  (Vid)

9) Tucker Hibbert 8-peats in Snowmobile Sno-Cross

10)  Aspen Local Alex Ferriera scores in Pipe.


Aspen Live: A Family Affair

Aspen Live celebrates 20 years next Dec.Aspen Live, a preeminent music and live entertainment industry think tank and networking conference celebrated it's 19th year this past weekend.  Jim Lewi once again brought together "the Aspen Family"  an eclectic group of agents, managers,  ticket-sellers, venue owners, marketers and live entertainment veterans from all over America, and one guy from Scotland.

Click 4 pix:  Aspen Live, A Family Affair.

As an industry outsider...AspenSpin was again given carte blance access to the inner circles of the music and live entertainment businesses.  Aspen Live has a extensive history of professional collaborations and mutually beneficial relationships built over years of skiing and partying in Aspen.   For many of the attendees #AspenLive is clearly one of the highlights of their year.  They get to break out of their molds, blow out of L.A. or NYC or Nashville or Seattle or Albuquerque or even Denver and let their hair down in Aspen.   Every year a few "newbies" try to crack the code and get taken in by the Aspen Live Family.  It was amazing how well the 5 young, vivacious, pretty and professional women from United Interests / W.A.R. Records of Boulder fit into the Aspen Family...which is composed mostly of grizzled music veterans.

Bob Lefsetz trading barbs with Peter Mensch.The infamous Bob Lefsetz of the influential music  industry rag, The Lefsetz Letter led off with a "sit down" with Peter Mensch founding partner of Q Prime Management.   Mensch, quite the racanteur,  has an interesting story to tell.   His long career in music has been colorful & successful, but he started as a nerdy, friendless, social outcast who's claim to fame was that he had more albums than anyone else in the dorm at University of Chicago.  He managed to score a job as tour accountant on Aerosmith's 1977-78 Draw the Line tour...which Mensch affectionately called the "snort the line tour" where he bonded with opening act AC / DC just as they were hitting America for the first time.  Despite being "the worst tour accountant in history" AC/ DC became his first major management client.  His firm Q Prime is one of the most powerful independent managers in the business.  Suffice to say...he has a good rap.  His motto..."don't get mad, get even."

Ticketing ScienceJim McCarthy, CEO of Goldstar Events had to follow Mensch to the podium.   It was not an easy task. Goldstar has sold over 15 million tickets for more than 10,000 venues since its inception in 2002.  You can sign up for discounted tickets in your market at GOLDSTAR    While e-ticketing and big data are fascinating topics...hearing about the time Keith Richards told Peter Mensch to tell Mick that "he looks like a pooftah" was a tough act to follow. 

Day 2 led off with a meaningful story about how Aspen Live creates opportunities.  Felice Mancini, President and CEO of Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation, a non-profit that provides instruments to schools for their music programs and Emma Leggat, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Stub Hub presented their case study.    Inspired by the acclaimed motion picture about music educator Mr. Holland...the foundation provides instruments and other support for about 4000 students every year.   Ms. Mancini is a tireless networker and clearly passionate about music education. Ms Leggat's goal...to humanize the e-commerce giant.   Last year in Aspen Mancini connected with an influential exec. from Stub Hub to get the ball rolling. Owned by E-Bay, Stub Hub is the 800 pound gorilla in the e-ticket space and the secondary market for tickets.  One year later...Stub Hub has agreed to sponsor The Next Stage Concert Series that produced 5 concerts across the country to benefit Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation.  Click here to watch a very compelling 2 minute film about the collaboration between Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation and Stub Hub and how they are helping 1 kid at a time.

Seth Goldstein on raising capital for the music space.Seth Goldstein, venture capitalist, entrepreneur, angel investor and DJ led a round table discussion about financing options in the music space.  It's safe to say...that while sexy...investments in music are usually a high risk ...rarely rewarded asset class.   I'm not saying it can't be done...but making money in the music world is always difficult.  One  peanut gallery comment that seemed to hold some truth " Silicon Valley hates music because it's in L.A. and Silicon Valley hates L.A.   Another weizenheimer shouted that the music business is "full of flakes".  No one denied it.   Check out Seth's DJ app.  CROSSFADER

Day three rolled out the gargantuan players.  Ashley Bradbury from Facebook gave a very nice presentation about the best way to use Facebook.  It became clear that Facebook wants to control everything you see and that the best way to maximize the utility of the social network is to pay them for placement.   Ashley who seems like a great lady also shared many ways by which you can give your data to Facebook.  My take home... big bro is watching...and  everybody calls him Zuck.

Who wants merch? Rockandrolltshirts.comVivien Lewit, director of Content Partnerships at You Tube (owned by google) led a discussion about monetizing content on You Tube.  You Tube is one of the primary vehicles for music consumption today and many artists are making bank on You Tube.  To provide some perspective on You Tube, 300 hours of video are uploded every minute. That's 12.5 days of vid...every 60 seconds.   50% of those views are watched on mobile devices.  The salient point...if you're a musician...control your publishing rights, partner up with You Tube...write, perform and record a hit vid...and start cashing checks. 

Another year of Aspen Live is a wrap. Next year will be the 20th edition, so expect some BIG, BIG things according to Jim Lewi.  It was a weekend packed with information flow, humongous dinners, late night rap sessions, inside jokes, gossip and brand building and of course all the merch you can handle courtesy of Dean Gelfand at RockandRollTshirts.com   The skiing, the hiking the cooking classes etc etc make Aspen Live a unique and powerful event. As always,  there was an extreme amount of hugging it out at Aspen Live.  If you are crazy enough to want to pursue a career in music and live entertainment...get your a$$ out here next year for Aspen Live.  Join the fam, because as always it was another great jam sesh with the Aspen Live Family.

Click 4 pix:  Aspen Live, A Family Affair.

Best wishes to veteran AspenLive Family member Andy Summers who suffered a terrible injury while skiing Spar Gulch for the "last run".  A concussion, a few cracked ribs and a collapsed lung never killed anyone ( i don't think)  Word has it Andy will be fine after some serious rest and recovery time.  But no crowd surfing for a while.  Positive vibes go out to Andy.    

Just as everyone was packing up to head to the airport...a major POW storm hit Aspen, hense the delay in the publishing of this article.  

Rob Gordon brought some new blood to Aspen Live. The ladies of United Interests / W.A.R. Records

Backstage pass. Getting it done after hours at Aspen Live.  


Don't Miss John Brown's Body in Aspen

 Don't miss the sick Reggae band from Boston on March 25 at Belly Up Aspen.  

Click JBB for pix.

View the vid STEP INSIDE from the latest album Kings and Queens.

The interview below was conducted by Alexa Schoenfeld for AspenSpin.  Her work appears in it's entirety and unedited.  It is the longest blog post in the history of AspenSpin.


AS: What's your relationship with Aspen? CO? You've played Red Rocks - how does CO stand out amongst everywhere else in the US and the world that you play and tour?

TB: Colorado was one of the first places in the country that we started working a lot, to tour nationally, just due to the sheer number of towns and the cities there are to play in. And then the amount of incredible venues there are in that scene alone, it's just a magnet for touring bands to do a lot of work. The venues are incredible. We've played a lot of them from the Filmore to the Fox, dozens of times. And we really love coming to Aspen as well for the Belly Up. We also play the Belly Up Solana Beach in San Diego, [and] when it comes to being a pro-club and really welcoming, and we super look forward to going [to both Belly Up venues].

AS: Have you found a big difference between the two Belly Ups (Aspen and Solana Beach, CA), speaking of that -- in the tone of the two as a performer?

TB: I think Aspen, to me, seems a little more intimate. I like the set-up of that one [a bit] more. But they both have a lot going for them as far as production, and hospitality; the people there are really nice. They're world-class venues across the board. I love playing music in the Rockies; I love playing music on the beach, on the coast. So you can't lose.

AS: Obviously Belly-Up is an amazing small venue and you guys have played incredible large outdoor venues and larger indoor venues as well. How does that affect you as a performer? Do you have a preference on which places you like to play?

TB: We have played a lot. The majority of the guys in the band prefer to play small to mid-size clubs, honestly. Being able to feel the contact with the audience -- it makes a huge a difference. For us, we're such a big band, we're an 8-piece band, so we like being closer to each other on a stage where we can really hear the sound of our instruments as they are instead of hearing them through in-ear monitors or [where] the horn section is 30 feet away from you. I prefer, I think we all prefer, to be as tight as possible. And I think that the Belly Up is actually a really nice size stage and room for us just to reference. You [have] to get used to playing all sizes, from outdoor festivals to the theaters to the clubs. But I think if you asked a majority of the guys in the band, I think we'd really feel most comfortable in 300- to 500-seat rooms. 

AS: Do you have a favorite venue as a patron -- just as a music goer, yourself?

TB: What comes to mind off the top of my head is I really like playing Cervantes and going to Cervantes in Denver. I live in Boston so there's a place called The Paradise in Boston that JBB does play at. There's definitely too many to count, but those two in particular are really great for seeing music and playing music. 


AS: Speaking of Boston, I know you studied there and you seem to have a deep relationship with the city. DUB APOCALYPSE is such an awesome concept and I'm sure it adds a ton of color to the Boston music scene. How have you seen that local music scene change over the years since you were a student and now put this side-band/project together?

TB: Thanks for asking about that. Boston is a really amazing place to play music. I've been living there for about 20 years. There [are] a bunch of different kinds of collectives that are really working a lot and there's a lot of venues that showcase a lot of great, different types of music right now. DUB APOCALYPSE is something that myself and Nate [Edgar], our bass player for JBB, came up with when we had a Sunday-night residency, and it just kind of grew out of the necessity of having different people week to week because of touring schedules. We were out with JBB or a couple of the guys were with G-Love for a while and other bands that tour regionally or nationally, so the circle just widened over the years. And now it's this really amazing collective of people and the band has actually become a lot busier in my off-time from JBB.

And musically it's really nice to play in a smaller-combo that's more improvisational-based and it's a lot more expansive sonically. It's got something for everybody, and it's satisfying to be a part of it and see it grow. We're actually in the process of doing some recording now. We have 8 tracks, all original tracks, done, so it's an on-going thing that's growing nicely and a nice, little regional thing. And people seem to enjoy it, and we definitely love doing it. 

AS: Regarding Berklee [Berklee College of Music, in Boston, MA -- largest independent college of contemporary music in the world; Benedetti graduated in _____] how did you find your way to music education and what was your experience was like there?

TB: I was born and raised in Albany, NY, which is like three hours west of [Boston]. So [Berklee’s] close to [Albany], and I came down to dive in and make the jump into the full-time music world. I wanted to stay close to my family. And I liked the idea of living on the ocean and by the water.

It was a great thing to do at the time for where I was at: being able to play drums for six, seven, eight hours a day for the better part of two years -- it definitely wasn't a bad thing. And on your path to becoming a profession musician, it's a nice luxury to have. It was a nice springboard to where I'm at today. I still work with, and am in concert a lot with, a lot of people that I met back then.

Still being in Boston, me and Nate [Edgar], our bass player, did a clinic over at Berklee not too long ago, [July 2011] where we did a drum-and-bass clinic and broke down a lot of the groves that we do, and tried to pass on some of the subtle tips of [our music]. So again, it's a cool place to be musically and just having Berklee here there's a ton of musicians that are here and that pass through from all over the planet, so it's a good thing.

AS: Is music education something you would advise young musicians and young artists to seek out? 

TB: I don't think it's a must-necessarily. It's very expensive to go to a music college. But I do think it's very beneficial to know how to read music and to be able to speak the language. It comes into play for me sometimes on a weekly basis: being able to read, or know cords. Just be able to have a conversation with people that do know that. It makes it lot easier to communicate. Especially as a drummer, people are always amazed. [Mimicking] "Do you know cord changes? Do you know what key this song this in?" Uh, yeah. [Laughs] Drummers aren't barbarians and we can hang. But [the formal training] definitely helps.

It is a must? I'm sure for every 10 people that go to school you'll find another 5 that don't go that can completely slay. So it's there's not cut and dry [answer]. But does it help? Yes, I think it comes in handy. You definitely meet a lot of people and you're able to get into an environment where you're playing music a ton and you're being exposed to a lot of different music from all over the world, and that's pretty beneficial if you want to be a working musician because you have to wear many hats. You have to hustle, you have to know people, and you have to wear a lot of hats. You have to be able to play a lot of different things, and be ready for anything. 

AS: You mentioned how much the performance meant to you as a student. Do you guys work in students at all to DUB APOCALYPSE or do you play amongst them at DUB's home club?

TB: Well the cool thing we did with that clinic that I was mentioning before is Nate and I did the clinic during the day at Berklee, and then at nighttime we did a DUB APOCALYPSE show [for the students] which tied a lot of the concepts we were talking about together. So that was a cool thing to be able to break it down and then show [the students] how it actually comes into play in the real world. DUB APOCALYPSE has a couple residencies here in Boston, and I know a lot of students do come out and see us, and a lot of the guys that are in the band are guitar [players]. One of our guitarists, Jeff Lockhart, is a professor over there at Berklee and a bunch of the horn players are teaching, so I'd like to think that we're on [the students'] radar. A lot of the kids that come to see working musicians have that musical communication.

AS: When you were younger, did you ever have a particular seminal moment as a viewer or a crowd-member? Either at a young age or recently?

TB: Well I was raised on heavier music: Iron MaidenOzzy, and ACDC. Which I still listen to and love to this day. Going to those shows as a kid and seeing that stuff was obviously major in getting me to where I'm at today. And as far as more recent things, when I moved to Boston in the early 90s there was a band called Morphine : a trio; just baratone sax, bass, and drums. They were from Boston, one my favorite bands. I knew all the drum stuff, and thought their sound was so unique and incredible. And their lead guy, [bassist and vocalist] Mark Sandman, ended up passing up, actually passed away on stage in Italy about 10 or 12 years ago [ Sandman died July 3, 1999; age 46 ]. So all these years later I ended up meeting the sax player, Dana Colley, who played with Morphine and now he plays with DUB APOCALYPSE, and he's one of my best friends in the world.

And it's just one of those things: I listen to Morphine [now] and I still get that feeling that I got when was in Boston in the early 90s, and I'm just like, "Holy shit! This guy lives up the street from me, and I play music with him all the time -- and he's one of my mentors." It's stuff like that. I'm thankful that I get to play music with people that I really, really love what they do. It's an honor. To be a part of their team.

AS: Do you guys ever put covers into the mix? 

TB: We don't really do that kind of thing. Although we have. We did a cover of " Bankrobber" by The Clash for The Joe Strummer Foundation [http://www.strummerville.com]. We've also done a cover, our own kind of tripped out version of "Midnight Ravers,” the old Wailers tune And we did an old spiritual [song] called "Peace in the Valley." We did that on Spirits All Around Us (2003 album). So we've definitely toyed with it here and there, but generally if we're going to put efforts into adding a tune it's going to be one of our originals or something from an older [JBB] album.  

AS: Are there any that you'd love to do -- perhaps with DUB APOCALYPSE if not with JBB?

TB: We're big heavy metal fans and metal heads and old school. I think it was was six or eight months ago the guitarist from Slayer, Jeff Hanneman, passed away -- and Slayer's one of my favorite bands of all time. So DUB APOCALYPSE was playing a gig that night, and we ended up pulling out our own version of "Raining Blood": we called it "Raining Doves". You never know what comes around the corner, but DUB APOCALYPSE doing the Slayer tune, I think that was pretty badass.

AS: Are there any of your favorite musicians that you've yet to play with -- be it on a tour or a singular stage?

TB: Well we've really been lucky to play with a lot of them. I think that one of the artists that I'd love to play with, that I LOVE, is Alpha Blondie . He's a reggae artist in the Ivory Coast, and he's almost like the African Bob Marley. He plays for tens and tens of thousands of people. Doesn't really come to the stage a lot. But Alpha Blondie is one of the guys that I would love to have -- to see on a bill with JBB. That would be incredible. Because his bands are always unbelievably tight, and he always has a 3-piece horn section. A lot of what Alpha has done in the past influenced JBB to a certain extent: just having a really big band, having the horn section, and the really tight arrangements. 

AS: Coming back to Colorado a bit, do you guys ski or snowboard - ride at all?

TB: A bunch of the guys do, personally I do not. But at least half the guys ski, snowboard, or both, and they'll be psyched [to be here and ride]. 

AS: Do you have any other personal favorite things to do while you're here, be it hiking on the mountains or places you like to go -- if not in Aspen, in the state?

TB: I just like cruising around and finding spaces to hang and meeting local people. Drinking beers. I definitely go on bike rides when I can. I'm a pretty big cyclist back in Boston, so I like doing that. When we were in Missoula, MT not too long ago, we all went out on this completely crazy tubing adventure down the Blackfoot River and almost died. [Laughs.] We definitely get out there when we can. But most of the time on the road I like to take walks by myself or just tool around town and pop into a bar here and there. Just find things.

AS: Well, as you probably know, on January 1st we had a big turn and now recreational cannaibs is legal across the state. We just in Aspen are now having recreational shops beginning to open. So we have to ask: what are your thoughts on recreational cannabis -- broadly speaking and in Colorado?

TB: Obviously it's great. Massachusetts is also one of the really progressive states in the case of decriminalizing and recently medical as well. It's a great thing across the board. The laws are pretty outdated and random depending on what state you're in, and it's kind of maddening as a traveling musician. If you get caught in the wrong state you could really be in for some tough times. But it's a great thing what's going on in Colorado, and I think it's a good sign that a lot of the rest of the country seems to be following suit.