Instrumental Magic: A Recap of Maz Festival -By Chadbyrne R. DickensShhhh! I’m going to let you in on a secret! Once the secret is out, then there is the possibility it may lose much of its special appeal and allure, so get in on the fun while it’s hot! For those lucky few, like myself, who saw Phish play in a bar for 10 people for free in the late 80’s, we knew that it was magic to be bottled and probably never able to be captured again as they grew. Much of the same can be said for the 3rd annual Maz Festival, the euphoric and enthralling musical weekend soiree set in Roscoe, NY in the Catskill Mountains over August 1st-4th. Tickets cost $80 for the entire weekend, including camping. Roscoe, NY located a mere 2 hours North of New York City, 4 hours from Boston and 200 miles from Philadelphia.With most of the sets scheduled with allotments as short as 40 minutes, this allowed for many more and varied artists to grace the stage when juxtaposed to other festivals. Over 60 different musical artists performed over the weekend, covering music genres including but not limited to jam, rock, funk, bluegrass and electronica on multiple stages, with an unintentional focus on some of the great instrumental artists in the music sphere. The Fest host and promoter, Jordan DuMond (Taste Da Thumb), along with his staff and volunteers, prepared an ideal music adventure. It was intensely personal due to its intimate size and presentation. One would make a new friend and see them over and over, like the first day at a small new school. There was only one place to get food, minimal vending and it provided a feel of personal “ownness” and comfort inherent in such a small setting – something innocent and free that gets lost in a larger more commercial festival setting. There were random people sporadically spinning fire and a troupe of girls swirling hips, including Vestopia Hoops, and strutting their ware with the hoop. Sometimes when at one of the endless quality shows, one couldn’t help but feel that one was very fortunate, as if it was a private show just for you and your friends. The entire experience is so peaceful and therapeutic – the ideal feeling we all seek from a festival experience.Many festivals claim to be about “family” when really it’s an excuse for narcissism and self-destruction. Maz Fest was so small that you met so many friends and spent real time with them over a 3 night weekend, it was like bonding at an Outward Bound Course complete with indelible memories from a camping trip with like-minded strangers. Maz Fest is a festival the way we wish it always could be – innocent, without crowds, without assholes, with no lines, and with friendly folks languishing in the language of imagery through music.Thursday, August 1stSome of the music on Day 1 included the local trippy dance band Squid Parade; the stimulating heavy rock of Maz Myth; the jazzy psychedelic rock from The Mushroom Cloud; the late night exploratory noodling from Cosmal; and a rare and exquisite and intimate acoustic set from Consider the Source.Friday, August 2ndSome of the bands that performed included the soulful rock funk fusion of The Kollectiv; the progressive rockers Avente; the brass heavy psychedelic Dixieland ragers Primate Fiasco; and the full frontal funk assault from Providence’s Resin Ed.Highlights:Mother’s Wine :: 7:00pm – 8:10pm : Main StageFrom the exploratory noodling commencing the beginning of “Vector” to start the show, reminiscent of the band YES, the ascending band consisting of Eric Marcazo (bass), Joe Harris (guitar), Jordan Simms (keys), Mark “Mook” Mammano (guitar) and Nick Salgo (drums) quickly warmed up a blossoming crowd on a Friday evening to start of the weekend festivities at Maz Fest. With tight transitions and jams one would never have known it was the live debut of two songs, “Curveball” and “Full Circle.” However, the band didn’t always have to jam to be effective as “Blue Moon’s” opening melody is reminiscent of the floating guitar work of Phish’s “Esther” with Mook’s strumming proving pleasantly addictive, “Tweedle Dee Right” has a “Scarlet Begonias” style hook that allows Mook’s uber talent on the axe to shine through. His stellar finger work and overall play trumps his skills (and jokes) behind the mic, but his groove more than impresses those in ear shot as he rips solos in “Curveball” that inspired many to dance. Jeff Mann of Consider the Source added some bombastic beats on the final two songs, “Full Circle” and the cover of Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” which saw vocals by drummer, Nick Salgo.Set List: Vector, Blue Moon, Tweedle Dee Right, Curveball, Pharmland, Full Circle*, For Whom the Bell Tolls* > You and All You See (reprise) *with Jeff MannConsider the Source :: 10:30pm – 12:30am :: Main StageWriters keep repeating the band’s tagline for themselves ad nauseam, as if everyone needs to be pigeon holed with a specific “label” and for Consider the Source the mantra is, “Sci-Fi Middle Eastern Fusion.” However, what does it mean? The reality is that Consider the Source defies logic, barriers and traditional boundaries of genre setting. Three extraordinarily talented musicians, Gabriel Marin (guitar), John Ferrera (bass) and Jeff Mann (drums) take us down an exciting path to the unknown. Although personable and music-savvy gentlemen off the stage, they turn into face-melting powerhouses of instrumental psychedelic rock on it. Unlike their peers, fans are guaranteed to be literally jaw-dropping in awe at the masterful musicianship at hand and the carnage left in its path. Led by the double-necked fretless guitar wizardry of Guru Gabe Marin, the band forages new galaxies with a palette of unique time signatures and funky chord progressions over a bed of strict over-the-top relentless energy. The trio, dressed in all-white, similar to the Droogs, continues to rapidly build a fan following and act unwittingly as trailblazers as progressive players making their own indelible mark. It is refreshing to see a talented band continue to improve and one can credit their legendary practice habits for that. They will continue to bend minds and impress new audiences next weekend at The Big Up where they will be performing an acoustic and electric set as well as teach a class.Set List: Moisturize the Situation, Up to But Not to Exceed Whoa, The Great Circuiting, Tihai for the Straight Guy, Abesense of a Prominent tooth, This Dubious Honor, ./, Paranoid Android, Keep Your Pimp Hand Strong, Good Point Wandering Bear, You Go Squish NowSaturday, August 3rdSome of the acts that performed on Saturday include New Jersey’s progressive Jam/jazz rock act Cocktail Party Phenomenon, Nyack’s Mr. Breakdown playing in support of their Shake Daddy Jupiter record, the intense jam that is Blendmode, the funky improvisational quartet called Tigerman, and a late night jamtronica/trance set by Duntzcap. Educating more than a few festival-goers in music, The Stick Men (Tony Levin, Markus Reuter, Pat Mastelotto) delivered a heavy set of songs written with the rare instrument, the Chapman Stick. Having released their 2nd album, Deep in February, Levin (from nearby Kingston, NY) and Mastelotto formerly worked together as part of King Crimson and their presence added professional credibility and experience to the weekend’s festivities.Highlights:Brummy Brothers :: 4:00pm – 4:40pm :: Electric Love StageDave Brumberg (bass), Eric Brumberg (mandolin), Russ Gottlieb (banjo) and Andrew Morris (guitar) brought the banging bluegrass that left many breathless after a bout of bouncing to their bombardment of beats. The only bluegrass act on the bill, the tight group of young men from New Jersey utilized the opportunity to dominate the groove. Just like CSN, who found each other accidently at a party, BB also provide luscious harmonies and some of the players were found using Craigslist! Each performer alternates taking lead vocals and each contributes equally to quality songwriting. Having been busy touring throughout the northeast and at festivals all summer, the quickly-ascending band has only just begun their voyage, the night before Maz Fest marked their 100th show and recently a local NJ news television program shared a detailed expose on the bluegrass outfit. Gottlieb’s penned “Cell Phone Blues” is traditional bluegrass with 4-part harmony, “cry cry cry” but with modern lyrics about a relationship gone wrong and a man avoiding the answering of his cell phone when his girl calls – its up-tempo, toe-tappin’, hootin’ and hollerin’ fun! Dave Brumberg’s “Bat Shit Crazy” resonates with many men as a song about an insane woman and it has a chorus that won’t escape your soul for days. “Shaking Your Brum” at a Brummy Brothers show is a wonderful excuse to just act care-free and enjoy the simple things in life like dancing, smiling and an everlasting feeling of pure exalted joy.Set List: Weed, Whiskey, Women, Batshit Crazy, Cell Phone Blues, Money, Comin’ Home, Sins & Lies, 60 Miles to BostonMun :: 4:30pm – 5:20pm :: Main StageWiley Griffin (guitar) is a pretty cool cat and his on stage performances exude a calm confidence. Backed by the heavy frenetic rhythms of Hershkowitz behind the kit, Andrew Ostenfeld (keys), and Doug Gresh (bass), funky transitory grooves ensue on the delightful track “Ufunko”, with call and response between Griffin and Ostenfeld. Griffin’s guitar possesses an alluring tone which subtly mesmerizing one into a euphoric groove that slowly builds to a crescendo that cascades over the audience like a glowing waterfall. These musicians create a brand of sound that forces one to get so caught up dancing that the set is over before one takes a breathe – 50 minutes of constant spinning. While rooted in jam structure, they pull of a hybrid of multiple genres well. They invited Plutonian Ode’s Kyle Ryan onstage for a rare vocal track, a cover of The Doors’ “Peace Frog”, as practice for their live karaoke set next weekend at the Big Up which should be a treat for all and one that Mun themselves are very excited about!Set List: Alchemy, Ufunko, Celestia, Peace frog (feat. Kyle Ryan of plutonian ode), AyoTauk :: 5:40pm – 6:40pm :: Main StageAn instrumental outfit named after the most Eastern town on Long Island, Montauk, The Beatles cover “She’s So Heavy” is an ideal vehicle to showcase the diverse skillsets of this talented NYC band. At times heavy handed and at times played with subtle nuance, Tauk, Matt Jalbert (guitar), Charlie Dolan (bass), Alric “A.C.” Carter (keys), Isaac Teel (drums) knows how to properly gel and fill up space. The tight jam showcases each member’s prowess on their instrument as it builds to payoff. As a band that was once lauded by this writer as “Phish meets Lotus” they continue to improve, as evidenced by the reggae-tinged rhythms of “Dead Signal” which contagiously pulls one into its sphere like a tractor beam. Playing in support of their Homunculus CD, they are currently opening a few dates for Robert Randolph and are slated to do the same for Dopapod in NYC this fall. You can catch them at Peach Fest on August 16th.Set List: She’s So Heavy (I Want You), Sweet Revenge, Mindshift, Carpentinos Rebirth, Dead Signal, Energy Muff, The Chemist, In the Basement of the AlamoShwizz :: 7:00pm – 8:10pm :: Main StageFounded in 2009, Ryan “Shwizz” Liatsis (guitar/vocals), Frank Coda (bass/vocals), Billy Schmidt (guitar), Gianluca Trombetta (keys), Paul Hollands (percussion), and Andy Boxer (drums) are a hard-working band currently a fixture at Olives and the Nyack area, and currently performing another residency at the famed Bitter End in NYC as they prepare for The Big Up next weekend and yet another throw down session at Catskill Chill soon thereafter. The soulful jam outfit, heavily influenced by Frank Zappa and James Brown, delivers an abundance of fresh frenetic energy led by Coda who drops bombs on his bass with authority. The gyrating groove and pulsating rhythms of the funk explosion “Doorbell” enlists the audience to participate in the rambunctious romp while showcasing the stellar slide work of Liatsis before Coda delivers deeper funkier beats as the song becomes more infectious as layers are added, including an impressive keys solo by Trombetta. The more introspective “Dreamdrop” allowed fans to kick back and enjoy the dance-athon before the vocals of “Slow Down” hurriedly picked the tempo up and offered a frenetic stage jam led by Coda’s fast thumping. The show concluded with the thicker and denser jam material of “Orange Wreck” and “#12”, leaving the audience satiated with delight from the non-stop barrage of sound.Set List: My Bad Side, Doorbell, Dreamdrop, Slow Down–> My Good Side, Duggan, Orange Wreck, Du Hast Annie–> #12Sunday, August 4thHigh-energy jazz and funk fusion act, UZO, played in support of their recent release, Demolition of Pluto; the sounds and style of Miles Davis meets Pink Floyd in the incarnation known as Jazzmosis; Taste Da Thumb’s Symphony was composer/arranger Jordan DuMond’s funk/rock fusion leadership of eight talented musicians; and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Bernie Worrell, former keyboard player for Parliament Funkadelic and Talking Heads closed the festival with an intimate show-stopping performance with his Orchestra.Check out a full gallery of pictures from Maz Fest here. Thanks to Jill Smith, Nick Irving, and Paul Holland for the pictures.
This piece originally ran in the Midlife Rocker blog. Writer Steve Houk had the unique opportunity to sit down with legendary rock icon David Crosby recently, to discuss his storied career, his ongoing solo tour, and his relationship with the Grateful Dead. Here’s what Crosby had to say: When you ask David Crosby what he thinks separates the music that he’s done solo, or with those three other guys named S, N & Y, from the rest of the pack, it’s a no-brainer.“It’s the songs, man. Everything is the songs,” an animated and engaging Crosby told me from his home in California as he prepares for his summer solo tour. “That’s what really separates the men from the boys. You can take a mediocre song and do all the production you want on it, and you’re still just polishing an ‘excrescence.’ There’s a polite word. But look, I think that we’re good writers. In whichever combination, either three good writers or four good writers, it gives us a very wide pallet of colors to work from. And I think that’s why the couch album and ‘Deja Vu’ were so strong. There’s a very wide scope of material there that one person couldn’t have written. I think that gave us a huge advantage.”As Crosby, 73, traverses through his 52nd year of creating music — still immersed in a career that has seen him enter the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, for his work with The Byrds and CSN — right now, his gift is in full bloom. Coming off his critically acclaimed solo release Croz in 2014, his senses are sharp, and his seasoned instincts appear keen. His songwriting spark is in the now, not just the then, the songs are coming fast and furious, and a lesser man might not know what to do with such a rush. But David Crosby does. If anyone knows how to handle a rush, it’s Croz. Take it and go with it.“I’ve always written in kind of bursts of activity over the years,” Crosby said with a twinkle in his voice. “I’ll write two, three things in a row and then a couple of months will pass by before I write another thing. I don’t know why that is, but I’ve been in now the longest most sustained burst of writing that I can remember in probably thirty years. I’m just amazed it’s going this long. I wrote two things this week. So I don’t know what to think. I feel very grateful, I don’t really understand it, but I guess I don’t have to understand it, I just have to work with it. I was stunned by the amount of material that’s coming my way and very grateful. And I’m smart enough to pay attention to it so that’s what I’ve been doing. I pick up the guitar every day several times, and try to work at it and it’s been working.”(L-R) Jerry Garcia, David Crosby, Phil Lesh and Neil Young during recording of Crosby’s 1971 album If I Could Only Remember My Name (photo courtesy Jim Marshall)Although Crosby has been prolific in his songwriting, he has only released four true solo records, beginning with the stellar, star-studded If I Could Only Remember My Name in 1971. That record came at a devastating period in his life, when writing songs was the only thing that kept him going when nothing else could.“That was a life saver, that record man, absolutely a life saver,” Crosby said with a clear remembrance. “I was going through a really rough period in my life there, my girlfriend had just gotten killed in a car wreck. I had no way to deal with it at all. I was in pretty bad emotional shape when we finished ‘Deja Vu’ and the only place I really felt comfortable was in the studio. So I just stayed in there. And that’s the record that happened. Jerry Garcia was a good friend of mine and came almost every night, some of the other guys, Phil Lesh, and Paul Kantner and Grace Slick and people from Santana and the Dead and the Airplane and other bands up there would come by. And sometimes Nash and Joni Mitchell. It was a rough time but that’s how I stayed alive, making that record.”Forty-four years after that album was released, and as the Dead celebrate their 50th anniversary this year, Crosby recalls his relationship with the Grateful Dead band members with much fondness, relationships that continue even today.“I was friends with all of them, and I’m still friends with Phil, we are buddies and have been for a long time and I’m sure we will be for a long time. I love ’em, they are a bunch of great guys, we would jam alot and spend time at Bob Weir’s place in Mill Valley which is right near my place and I would go over there when they were rehearsing, and just interfere and get in the way and pester them. Start jams right when they were trying to learn new tunes and stuff.”David Crosby soars live (photo courtesy David Crosby)Crosby will be back out there with his longtime mates this fall for a CSN European swing — “Why do we do it? I guess we love it, that’s the answer” — but for now, it’s just him and his guitar, naked out there. And that’s just how he wants it to be right now.“It’s more challenging, it’s how I started out,” Crosby said. “One guy, one guitar. But it’s also a way that I can do one of the things I love the most, which is tell you the story of the song. The words really count, and if it’s just you and the guitar, you get to really actually make the words count. And they’re a big deal for me, poetry’s a big deal for me. A BIG deal to me. I love doing it this way, it’s much more challenging, and at this point in my life, challenging myself is a very healthy thing to do.”And as always, when it comes right down to it, it’s all about…the songs.“To carry it yourself, it has alot more to do with the song. If you got a whole band there, you can play something that’s only moderately good and get away with it. If it’s just you and the guitar, it has to be a really good song. That for me is crucial stuff. I really like that. I do have some good songs. It’s a different ball game than playing with the band, completely. Not everybody wants to do it and not everybody can do it. I do really love doing it.”And will Crosby be pulling out any buried treasures from his legendary canon, any big surprises, on this short solo soiree?“Oh definitely, but I’m not gonna tell ya,” he says, laughing. “You have to come to the show, man. I hope you do come, I think you’ll like it. If you like songs, you’ll love it.”
Vanderbilt quarterback David Lee (8) tries to avoid Georgia defender Rusty Russell (88) before 51,000 at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga., on Oct. 19, 1974. Georgia scored a touchdown with 24 seconds left for a 38-31 victory. Vanderbilt quarterback Patton Robinette has been medically cleared from concussion symptoms and will be in uniform at Missouri on Saturday, according to the Commodores’ official football Twitter account.But redshirt freshman Johnny McCrary will still get his first career start in Saturday’s game (3 p.m./SEC Network), per the same tweet from @VandyFootball on Friday morning. Vanderbilt will become the first Football Bowl Subdivision team to start four different quarterbacks this season.QB Patton Robinette has cleared medical protocols, will be in uniform Saturday. Johnny McCrary will get 1st career start vs. Mizzou.— VandyFootball (@VandyFootball) October 24, 2014Robinette, a sophomore, has not played since suffering the concussion in a Sept. 20 loss to South Carolina.Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason was not made available for comment on Friday, per the team’s regular media availability schedule during a game week.RELATED: Vanderbilt’s five keys to beat MissouriRELATED: Vandy, Missouri to stage ‘great duel’ of returnersRELATED: Vandy hopes Maty Mauk keeps making poor decisionsDuring Tuesday’s weekly press conference, Mason said Robinette’s concussion was not a career-ending condition, but it would take some time for him to work back into game shape after being sidelined for more than a month.“I have all the confidence in the world that Patton will be back, sooner than later. We’re on our way. He was out there the other day,” Mason said on Tuesday. “Once he goes through the protocol for what our doctors have in store and he’s cleared, then what we’ll do is go about the protocol football-wise of a player having to be in shape (after) missing some time. You have to be in shape to step back out there. It’s not like you just step back into the fold and say, ‘OK, you’re our quarterback.’ But he is our leader and we are anxiously awaiting his time back with this team.”Vanderbilt quarterback Patton Robinette has not played since suffering a concussion on Sept. 20.Vanderbilt has swapped four quarterbacks a combined 10 times this season, due to injuries or coach’s decision. After Wednesday’s practice, McCrary said he did not fear being pulled out of the game.“When I step on the field, I can only do my best,” McCrary said. “If my best isn’t good enough, I’ll take myself out of the game. You can tell if you’re not moving this team, but I want to stay tough and maybe something special will happen.”Robinette, the season-opening starter, has played only portions of three games. He has completed 23 of 32 passes for 240 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. The other three quarterbacks – McCrary, LSU graduate transfer Stephen Rivers and true freshman Wade Freebeck – have combined for two TD passes and 11 interceptions.Reach Adam Sparks at 615-259-8010 and on Twitter @AdamSparks.