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Jimmy Buffett & The Coral Reefer Band
Jiffy Lube Live
Bristow, Virginia
September 1, 2011
(Postponed from August 27, 2011 due to Hurricane Irene)

By jeff taulton

For the first time in many years (an entire lifetime to many ParrotHeads), Jimmy Buffett had a “tough crowd in the Mid-Atlantic”.  How can that be you ask?  He should have had plenty of appropriate fodder to pull from and Buffett is as clever and creative as anyone in show business.

The fact is, within 10 days of this show there was an earthquake in Virginia and Hurricane Irene had just swept through the Chesapeake region.  What’s more, Labor Day weekend had arrived and this was the last scheduled show of the summer.  The perfect scenario for a ParrotHead Party…right?  Not this year!  The sails of the “5-state sector” had very little wind for Mr. Buffett in 2011 at “no fault of Jimmy’s”.  

Sometime in May, long after this show was sold out, the venue (Jiffy Lube Live) announced that their “No Tailgating Policy” would be strictly enforced.  There has been a lot of finger pointing as well as numerous rumors and semi-true stories circulating about this sensitive issue.  One thing however is certain; a Jimmy Buffett concert without tailgating (prerequisite number one) is just not right.  The entire ambiance, atmosphere, and mood become subpar.  Talk about changes in attitudes!  Again, it was NOT Buffett’s fault that thousands of dedicated ParrotHeads could not get wasted away again in Margaritaville.  The unfortunate stage was set, and this time it was Jiffy Lube Live who fell off…and not Jimmy Buffett.

Oh yeah, there was also a kick-ass musical concert on this night although it practically seemed anticlimactic.

At precisely 8:00PM, the lawn area (where the show time party is) appeared scattered and nearly vacant, as if it were 6:00PM and the gates had just opened.  At 8:10PM, the pavilion seats were plentiful as the stage lights lit up.  It was 5 o’clock somewhere but not in Bristow, Virginia.  No worry, Ilo Ferreira is the opening act and he will do at least 20 minutes.  Oops… here comes Buffett.  Guess he will introduce Ilo and maybe even comment about the parking lot fiasco.  Nope, it’s Jimmy and the show has begun.

After a comical jaunt near the edge of the stage and a sarcastic comment about his ear monitor not working, the singer joked, “We were just here last week but nobody showed up.”  
Enough said about all that stuff…

Buffett and his always-fabulous 10-piece band then kicked into, “The Wino And I Know”.  Realizing he might need to provide a boost to the unusually illusive crowd, the seasoned entertainer bumped “Brown Eyed Girl” up into the second slot.  Here we go!  The audience jumped on board and things were “almost” okay once again in Margaritaville.

Next came a real guitar lovers dream with Peter Mayer and Mac McAnally trading licks on, “Surfing In A Hurricane”.  McAnally is a three-time CMA Musician Of The Year recipient and Mayer has his own phenomenal gig (The Peter Mayer Group) when he is not with The Coral Reefer Band.  Together, these guys are as great as any guitar combination on the planet.  Most bands would be fortunate to have one lead guitarist with such talent.  Buffett has the extraordinary luxury of being blessed with two hired guns to call on.

Things continued as anticipated with a tastefully eclectic mix of Rock, Reggae, Country, and you know…Buffett Beach Music.  Before introducing “Son Of A Son Os A Sailor” the melodic waterman added, “I stopped in Newport News on the way here last week.  I knew things weren’t looking good when I saw the entire US Naval fleet of Virginia headin’ out to sea.”

Then came the singer’s annual Mid-Atlantic appreciation speech.  “I want to thank all of you who have been supporting my shows over the past 40 years.  This one is for those of you who used to come out to places like The Cellar Door in Georgetown.”  The songwriter proceeded with his very first popular hit from 1974, “Come Monday”.

Midway through the set Buffett and his piratical ensemble cruised into, “One Particular Harbor”.  This masterpiece is always a keeper and the band came through big time!

As Buffett exited for a brief pause, Nadirah Shakoor took over with, “Use Me”, a Bill Withers tune.  The former vocalist for Arrested Development has been a popular “Reeferette” since 1995 and is always well received by ParrotHeads.  She rose to the challenge on this night with great success.  Buffett then reappeared and boasted, “That tune was written by a guy from West Virginia.”  The pockets (hula hollows) of ParrotHead Mountaineers from across the river gracefully acknowledged. 

As the spectacle continued, it became obvious that there was not going to be an intermission.  Yet another unexpected nuance for this event.  No tailgating, No opening act, No intermission!  At least the paying customers knew about the tailgating issue in advance.  Throughout the day of the show all relevant websites and resources continued to advertise Ilo Ferreira as being part of the bill as well.  Improvise was the buzzword of the moment and Buffett was the only Boy Scout prepared to do so.   

The Buffett - McAnally twosome provided one of the most salient four-minutes of the entire experience with an acoustic version of, “A Pirate Looks At Forty”.  This gem could not have been presented any better at any time or any place!  Buffett finished off the lengthy set (25 songs) with a rousing version of, “Southern Cross” then the medley, “Great Filling Station Holdup/Midnight Rider”.

The grand finale was an extremely pleasing and enjoyable solo acoustic rendition of, “Tin Cup Chalice”.

In summary, this had to be the most unusually awkward Jimmy Buffett show of the summer.  The song selection was fantastic except for an unexplained omission of, “Trying To Reason With Hurricane Season”.  This was the perfect “missed opportunity” for such a tune!  Unfortunately, the off-stage Buffettisms were practically nonexistent as the sour mood permeated the total setting.  ParrotHead virgins were left with only half a legitimate impression of what being a ParrotHead is all about and veteran ParrotHeads were “pissed off”. 

As Jimmy Buffett approaches his mid-60s, it would be easy for him to say, “enough is enough” and literally sail off into the wild blue sea… 

If Cincinnati is the origin of ParrotHeads and Key West is where Jimmy Buffett lost his shaker of salt, then the Mid-Atlantic is the “heart of Margaritaville”.   It would be a dammed shame if this were Buffett’s last “sand” in this musically diverse territory.  Obviously, Jiffy Lube live will not be included on the legendary showman’s  summer itinerary for 2012.  ~AMR~

Peter Mayer Group
Rams Head Tavern
Annapolis, Maryland
August 10, 2011

By jeff taulton

Combine one of the finest listening clubs on the east coast with one of the most talented, versatile guitarists “anywhere” and the obvious result is two-plus hours of live music bliss!

The Peter Mayer Group are an eclectic quintet of gifted musicians and vocalists that have the unique ability to mix Jazz, Acoustic, Caribbean, and good ole’ Rock & Roll into an amazingly entertaining musical experience.  Such a task appears effortless for Mayer, as he has been playing lead guitar with Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band well over 20 years now.  Buffett of course, is renowned for consistently presenting a world-class, multi-faceted touring ensemble. Mayer has taken two decades of valuable live show experiences, attached them to his own inimitable talents and created the unparalleled, Peter Mayer Group.

The charismatic singer/songwriter greeted an enthusiastic, Wednesday crowd with a pair of comedic personal accounts of his daily events.  “I made two tactical errors while preparing for tonight’s show,” he conceded. “First, I side-swiped another vehicle as I was pulling up in front of the Rams Head this afternoon.  The other is much more serious,” Mayer admitted.  “I booked this date well in advance and failed to remember that today is my wife’s birthday.”  He continued, “She’s back home in Nashville, so Sweetie, this one’s for you.  Happy birthday and I love you.”  The latter turned out to be the only sour note of the entire night!      

Mayer opened up with a syncopated flavored “The Last Island”, followed by the jazzy singed “Cool Blue Swing”, written by PMG pianist, Chris Walters.  (More on him later)  The initial trine of tunes was topped off with “All The Tea In China” in which Mayer demonstrated with ease, his ability to utilize every fret on the guitar neck.

As quickly as Mayer and company inspired and energized the intimate flock of listeners, the band also displayed the canny ability to do an “about face” with a deftly segue into “Musicbox”.  This piece turned out to be one of the most poignantly beautiful five minutes of the entire show.

The first half of fun continued with multiple live gems including “Blue Guitar”, featuring some incredible runs by bassist Marc Torlina.  On the funk-pop influenced “Heaven Help Us” Mayer tastefully flaunted his exceptional slide guitar prowess.

The Peter Mayer Group closed out the front half of the evening with “BB’s Got The Blues”, a fusion salad of Jazz, Funk and Blues highlighted by the unbelievable whirr of Walters’ simulated Hammond B3.   Throughout the evening, Mayer, Torlina and percussionist R. Scott Bryan consistently gelled on vocal harmonies as if they were brothers. 

Mayer kicked off the second set with his title track from 1999’s Romeo’s Garage.  He then preceded “Under Your Spell” by recalling a magical musical evening spent with Joni Mitchell in New Orleans.  Mayer once again illustrated his slide guitar expertise, but this time was accompanied by the magnificent mastery of violinist Maggie Estes.  All night long, the bandleader seemed to conscientiously refer to Estes’ instrument as a “violin” and not a “fiddle”.  Didn’t he say he lived in Nashville?  Regardless of one’s description, Estes is a superstar in the making and she is learning the live show aspects of the business from one of the best.  Oh yeah, Mom says she has to finish college first!

Mid-way through the home stretch Mayer went totally acoustic with “Moonlight Over Paris” and then, “India”.  This segment was totally cool and almost seemed improvisational as the entire band sat “in the round” only after borrowing chairs from the Rams Head patrons.  When was the last time you saw that, excluding a drunken jam session at the family reunion?  Included in good faith was a partial cover of CSN&Y’s “Teach Your Children” with ample crowd participation.

Mayer finished up the planned portion of the evening with “Chain Of Love” and “Morningstar Café”.   The latter provided an opportunity for all three lead instruments (guitar, piano and violin) to let ‘er rip!  Rest assured, not one paying customer was disappointed with that prize.

The encore set consisted of “Hair Of The Dog” followed by “Suzannah”.  Mayer ultimately closed out this incredible night for good by going “totally and literally” unplugged.  The singer stepped out into the crowd and serenaded his friends with an acoustic medley of “Faith In Angels” and The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love”.   No mics, no wires… no problem!

The past two decades have proven to be quite fascinating for Peter Mayer.  His part-time summer gig with Buffett is the ideal PR campaign for his solo projects.  ParrotHeads are very loyal fans and musically savvy consumers!  ParrotHeads love Peter Mayer and there is no need to elaborate.   

The Annapolis show at Rams Head Tavern was one of three events recorded live for a new PMG album tentatively scheduled for release this fall.  Mayer obviously means business on this venture as legendary recording engineer Alan Schulman was in the house and at the knobs along with current Nashville studio phenom Mark Petaccia.  If those names don’t ring a bell, “Google them” when you have a few hours to scan their combined musical credits! 

Regardless of the season, Peter Mayer is always worth checking out.  He is a first class musician with a million dollar demeanor.  This “kid next door” is truly a Rock Star!

The Peter Mayer Group will be back around later this year with their “must see” annual Christmas tour.  ~AMR~

16th Annual Western Maryland Blues Fest
Hagerstown, Maryland
June 2 - 5, 2011

By jeff taulton

While the Western Maryland Blues Fest continues to be regarded as one of the best live music affairs east of the Mississippi, the 2011 edition will likely boost that standing to the international level.

To truly appreciate Blues Music in the 21st century, one must at least have a basic understanding of its origin and some familiarity with today’s contemporary Rock & Roll musician.  In very general terms, the slaves of America’s deep south created the core of Blues Music during the 1800s.
Over the years however, the genre has evolved and branched out just as other musical forms have.  Pop Music, Country Music, Jazz, Bluegrass, and Rock & Roll are all considered to be descendents of traditional American Blues Music.  The photo of an elderly black man playing an old acoustic guitar on a dilapidated bench is just a minuscule glance of what Blues Music was or is.  

The 2011 lineup for the Western Maryland Blues Fest not only portrayed some of the roots of Blues Music but, also provided an up close look at today’s favorites as well as future superstars.   In other words, “They nailed it!”

Thursday, June 2nd

Moondog Medicine Show, a regional quintet featuring the dominant vocals of Lana Spence, kicked off the four-day musical extravaganza.  Spence and company established a powerful precedent that would prevail throughout the memorable weekend… “Power and Women!”

Friday, June 3rd 

Friday’s feature act validated the international appeal of Blues Music.  Guitarist, Ana Popovic, was born in Serbia.  Her no-nonsense guitar and vocal styles have helped her rack up numerous worldwide accolades and musical honors over the past few years.  From the screaming guitar licks of, “Count Me In” to the funky-laced “Change My Mind”, Popovic proved she belongs in the global arena of contemporary Blues Music.

Saturday, June 4th

Saturday’s Western Maryland Blues Fest agenda entailed a parade of impressive talent bouncing from one stage to another.  While all acts were obvious keepers, a few units gravitated to the top.

By early afternoon, Devon Allman’s power trio, Honeytribe, were in complete control.  Okay, get past the name…  Yes, Devon is the son of Gregg Allman and the nephew of legendary guitarist Duane Allman.  However, this cat has forged his own musical artery and has done so with authority.  Honeytribe gave new meaning to “lunch in downtown Hagerstown” with George Potsos playing some amazing bass and Gabe Strange pounding out a steadfast cadence on drums.
Wow, these guys can cook and the crowd was eatin’ it up!  Allman’s deep, rich vocals were compelling and he is wickedly tasteful on the Les Paul guitar.  In addition, Honeytribe’s three-part harmonies are impeccably pleasing.  

A few gems from Allman and Honeytribe’s tenure include, “Could Get Dangerous”, “Salvation”, and “When I Call Home”.  A sentimental favorite from the Honeytribe hour was “Midnight Rider”, an Allman Brothers classic that was included on the compilation album A Song For My Father.  “When they first called and asked if I would consider doing that song for the album, I turned it down,” Allman concedes. “Then, I saw who else was gonna be on it and said, hell yeah.”

The Soul Rebels Brass Band provided a perfect segue into mid-afternoon, with a New Orleans flavored presentation.  The upbeat pop…jazz…rap performance created the ideal boost for the rest of the day.

Davy Knowles, the King of today’s British Blues Invasion, closed down Saturday night hard with his band, Back Door Slam.  If you haven’t heard of this guy yet…you will.  Knowles finished off the unbelievable day of music with a plethora of dandies including, “Tear Down The Walls”, “Coming Up For Air”, “Gotta Leave” and “Catch The Moon”.  Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, Knowles was joined on stage by world-renowned luthier (guitar builder) Paul Reed Smith.  PRS Guitars were whaling everywhere and the audience loved every riff!

Sunday, June 5th

Finally, a beautiful Sunday afternoon in the park, filled with soft classical music…NOT!

Joanne Shaw Taylor was in town from across the big pond and she wanted Western Maryland to know it.  Whoa Nelly, this chick ain’t from that girl band on the Disney Channel!  Taylor is hot and her decisive guitar licks are even hotter.  She is an amazing musician who can literally manhandle six strings with no mercy!  To say that Joanne Shaw Taylor added the ultimate exclamation point to the 16th Annual Western Maryland Blues Fest… is quite fitting.

Carl Disque, founder of the Western Maryland Blues Fest, should be applauded for his continuous efforts in maintaining what is now an annual Mid-Atlantic tradition.  This music festival is first-class and very “fan friendly”.  Here’s to many more!  ~AMR~

Jon Carroll
First Friday Coffee House
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
February 4, 2011

By jeff taulton

In the world of professional American music, Jon Carroll is known as the ultimate sideman.  The talented multi-instrumentalist is the one you want within your organization, on your team, and in your band! 

Chronologically speaking, Carroll goes back to the Mid-1970s with the Grammy Award winning Starland Vocal Band.  During the 80s he was regarded as one of popular music’s best songwriters, having penned tunes for major acts such as Linda Ronstadt.  Throughout the 90s Carroll continued his “Grammy ways” as a key member of Mary Chapin Carpenter’s award winning band.  And now, here in the 21st century the mega-talent remains unrelenting in his musical endeavors.

On a cold and snowy, February night, just a few dozen music lovers were treated to a real spectacle… “Jon Carroll solo”…just and acoustic guitar and a small electric piano.  While the winter weather kept many away, the students at Shepherd University inexplicably missed out on a true “evening delight”.  This was literally one of those greatest shows never seen but, as time goes by, hundreds will claim to have been there.

The intimate group was initially quiet however, Carroll immediately broke the ice with some humorous small talk as he made his way to the ad hoc stage area.  He quickly sat at his workbench and kicked out the upbeat but bluesy, “Jack Of Diamonds”.  The piano bar scene continued with, “Maybe This Romance”.

The charismatic showman then traded his keys for frets and shocked the audience with an unbelievable rendition of Ted Hawkins’, “The Good And The Bad”.  With just a few songs, the crowd was numb and Carroll had proven he literally could do it all. 

The tasteful set lasted just over an hour as Carroll’s melodically pleasing selections combined Rock, Blues, Pop, and Reggae.  One of the more poignant two and one-half minutes came during, “Land That Time Forgot”. The consummate entertainer proceeded with many more keepers including, “Joined At The Hip”,  “On The Front Porch” in which Carroll incorporated the bogus horn section, and “On His Bike”.

Jon Carroll clearly applies Jim Valvano’s theory of life into his solo shows.  The musician makes you laugh, think, and cry.  If a listener feels such emotions during a live event, the entertainer has obviously done their part and that’s considered a great show.  Jon Carroll is just that type of entertainer!

On this particularly cold, winter night, the crowd was small but the talent was huge.  Jon Carroll closed this magnificent set with a Charlie Rich tune, “Feel Like Going Home”.  And we did…with smiles.   ~AMR~ 

Pickin’ In The Panhandle
Hedgesville, West Virginia
September 11-12, 2010

By jeff taulton 

In just a few short years, West Virginia’s Pickin’ In The Panhandle has become one of the most sought after Bluegrass Music events on the East Coast.  Oh yeah, they also play host to the West Virginia State Barbeque Competition.

For Saturday, the weather was perfect and the music outstanding.  Notable moments were abundant and include the following:

Newfound Road
This quartet featured high energy and tight vocals.  Tim Shelton nailed every note with some fantastic harmony from his friends.   Joe Booher’s mandolin chops were more than appealing while his get-up-and-go stage antics proved infectious and compelling to say the least.

Claire Lynch
With an angelic voice, Claire Lynch is always a keeper.  There was little surprise when she was named Female Vocalist Of The Year for 2010 at the IBMA’s (International Bluegrass Music Awards).  Lynch thrilled the audience with her always-popular version of “Wabash Cannonball”.  Playing bass for Lynch, was the multi-talented, Mark Schatz.  Known in the industry as one of the best bass players in New Acoustic Music, Schatz treated the crowd to a comedic dance routine he often features with one of his many “other gigs”, Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble.  Bluegrass bass players with such enormous talent are hard to find.

Josh Williams Band
Williams and his gang absolutely crushed Michael Murphy’s “Carolina In The Pines”.  The band’s future looks very promising as they were chosen as the IBMA’s Emerging Artist Of The Year for 2010.  What’s more, Williams walked away with the Guitarist Of The Year trophy.  This group is talented and convincing.

Mountain Heart
Ok…this ain’t your daddy’s bluegrass band.  Lester Flatt is rolling in his sweet baby’s arms somewhere while 21st century Bluegrass fans love these guys.  Surely, today’s typical music fan has an eclectic taste.  The same theory holds true for that small music industry niche called Bluegrass.  Mountain Heart is the perfect band for those folks who grew up in a musically diverse household over the past thirty-some years.  This multipurpose ensemble can cook on anything from “Freeborn Man” to the Allmans’s “Whipping Post”.   At one point, they successfully merged Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon Of Kentucky” with ACDC’s “Back In Black”.  Such a segue is only possible with superb musicians possessing impeccable ability.  Mountain Heart is today’s Newgrass Revival.  That my friend… is a complement!  

Joe Diffie
Saturday night ended on a disappointing note, figuratively and literally.  Joe Diffie was a Country Music Superstar in the ‘90s.  Over the years, he has gone back to his Bluegrass roots on numerous occasions.  Diffie’s powerful and exceptional baritone voice is usually more than enough to get him by in most live settings.  Unfortunately, it just didn’t work on this night.  The singer seemed awkward and uncomfortable to say the least, which only added to the obviously embarrassing moment.  While he had Newfound Road there to back him, “it just didn’t click”.  Say it ain’t so Joe.

Ricky Skaggs
Sunday was all about Ricky!  The mega-talented musician is a Country Music legend and Bluegrass icon.  Skaggs and his brand of traditional music is highly credited with bringing “country” back to Country Music during the 1980s.  He has a home full of Grammies, CMAs (Country Music Association) and IBMAs to prove his vast influence on today’s musicians.  

Leading up to Sunday’s grand finale was the big question…”What kind of set will Ricky do?”   Country? Bluegrass? Gospel? Celtic?
First, the anxious crowd had to get past the sight of the headliner’s striking and salient, long, gray hair.   This was truly remarkable and somewhat surreal to those who had not seen pictures of Skaggs over the past few years.  He almost appeared to be a caricature of himself.  Once the music started however, the voice and the fingers were totally impressive.  While staying on the traditional side of the tracks, Skaggs and his amazing band (Kentucky Thunder) easily lived up to the hype.  In addition, Bluegrass Music purists and historians were treated to a host of anecdotes and stories only Skaggs could recite.     

If you enjoy live acoustic music, barbeque food, camping, and great family entertainment, Pickin' In The Panhandle is a must see event.   The 2010 show was truly extraordinary for many reasons.  The dates for Pickin' In The Panhandle 2011 are September 9-11. ~AMR~

Jimmy Buffett & The Coral Reefer Band
Jiffy Lube Live 
Bristow, Virginia
September 4, 2010

By jeff taulton

Jimmy Buffett & The Coral Reefer Band closed out the summer leg of their 2010 Under The Big Top tour on September 4th in Bristow, Virginia.  What a great way for Mid-Atlantic ParrotHeads to end a beachcomber season… Jimmy Buffett “for the Labor Day weekend show” and hurricane (Earl) cruisin’ up the coast!  With two prime Buffettisms in place, the rest literally depended on the all-important set list.

Buffett opened with “Nobody From Nowhere”, one of the real keepers from his latest studio venture, Buffet Hotel (not Buffett).  The song was accentuated by immediate crowd participation (the hello wave), yet a new idiosyncrasy to the Buffett live show.  Then came, “Piece Of Work”, an unofficial autobiographical rocker featuring slide guitarist extraordinaire, Sonny Landreth.  A boatload of Coral Reefers joined in to share lead vocals on that one.  The successful hat trick culminated with the syncopated, reggae-like “Knees Of My Heart”.  

Buffett then welcomed his always enthusiastic “phlock” of supporters with a few sailor-appropriate comments, many of which only ParrotHeads seem to comprehend.  That’s part of his piratical shtick!
Unfortunately, he proceeded with, “Wings”, a throwaway that somehow made it on to the aforementioned “Hotel” project.
That three-minute segment turned out to be the only pee break for the night!  While Buffett traditionally accommodates his audience with an intermission, no such half-time allocation was afforded on this night.  There is no doubt a good reason for the exclusion however, ParrotHeads look forward to that 20-minute time-out which has become customary at a Buffett concert!  It’s an opportunity to get more beer and gain that second wind for the remainder of the event.  

The show progressed nicely with the usual mandatories including, “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere”, “One Particular Harbor”, and “Volcano”.  One of the coolest numbers of the entire set turned out to be “Where The Boat Leaves From”, a tune borrowed from Buffett’s newest best friend, Zac Brown.  The Coral Reefers sailed smoothly on that piece after which Buffett readily admitted, “I wish I had written that one.” 

The gigantic 13-piece ensemble nailed other cover tunes throughout the night as well.  “Brown Eyed Girl” (Van Morrison), “Mexico” (James Taylor), “Scarlet Begonias” (Grateful Dead) and “Southern Cross” (Stephen Stills) proved without a doubt that Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band is still the best cover band on the planet!

The charismatic bandleader continues to spawn one of the finest eclectic touring units ever assembled in the realm of ”Pop Music”.  The 2010 version of the Coral Reefer Band surely ranks as one of Buffett’s most talented.  Landreth is a perfect fit and was a great addition for this Virginia show.  Previous Coral Reefer Band members and/or guests include Clint Black, Bill Payne, and Timothy B. Schmidt just to name a very few. 

Jimmy Buffett is an expert at establishing a rapport with his listeners or basically sucking up to the crowd.  The award winning songwriter and best-selling author made multiple regional references all evening ranging from, “Maryland Crabs from the Chesapeake Bay”, to long gone DC nightclubs.  The most notable mention however, came during his signature song, “Margaritaville”, as the singer slid in “West Virginia cutie” when referring to his new tattoo.  Yes folks, Bobby Byrd was smiling from somewhere!

This Virginia show ranks very high on the Buffett concert continuum.  There was new stuff, old stuff, cover stuff, acoustic stuff…and you know, the typical high quality entertainment that Jimmy Buffett is now legendary for.  

Ironically, ParrotHeads have a great interest in what song Buffett ends his show with.  For some, there may the realization that at 63 years of age this could be “the last one”.   For others, the closing song represents the “roots” of Buffett’s music.  He usually ends with a solo-acoustic tune and consistently states, “This is how it all got started.”  Buffett recognized this fan curiosity by releasing Encores (a 22-song live CD of various encores and show ending material) earlier this year. For this Labor Day weekend show in Virginia, the storyteller chose to conclude with “He Went To Paris”.  Enough said!  ~AMR~

Outlaw Jam
Frederick Fairgrounds
Frederick, Maryland 
August 1, 2010

By jeff taulton

From a “music fan” point of view, the inaugural Outlaw Jam of Frederick, Maryland appears to have been a tremendous success.  The weather was hot, the Rock & Roll was scorching, and the beer was cold.  Without assessing the financial component with the appropriate sponsorship, one would have to assume that there will be another Outlaw Jam in the works for Frederick, Maryland in 2011.

Opening this event was Black Stone Cherry.  Yes they’re rural, (from Kentucky) and they speak with a southern accent but, the hillbilly stereotypes stop there!  Although they have been around for a couple of years Black Stone Cherry is considered a “new band” and are not yet well known on the national music scene.  Well, I’ll be Daniel Boone, that’s all about to change.  These guys are young, talented, and can flat out kick it.

Even though Black Stone Cherry was in fact the “opening act” it was still rather shocking to witness the number of people that “avoided” such a great set.   The folks that were at the tee shirt stands or in the beer lines were no doubt very disappointed when they learned of such a missed opportunity.  From the very first note of “Rain Wizard” through the next dozen or so tunes, Black Stone Cherry displayed high energy with reckless enthusiasm, while hitting every single note.  Other keepers from this set include “Lonely Train” and “Blind Man”. 

Black Stone Cherry have an outstanding live show.  If they can keep it together, they will be one of the premiere Rock & Roll bands people with flocking to see next year.  

While Candlebox had their hands full following Black Stone Cherry, much of the crowd was just arriving and had nothing to compare them to.  The highlight of this set was obviously “Far Behind”.  Unfortunately, there is a fear that Candlebox will have the dubious distinction of a “one hit wonder” band.   They have been around for a lot of years now and it’s not a good sign when you have to throw in some Zeppelin covers just to get through one set.  Let’s hope for some more good stuff from them real soon.

Then came Blue Oyster Cult.  Man, what a disappointment.  Now I know why they have been on the club circuit over the past few years.  To sum it all up, the sound quality was poor (muffled) and their song selection was even worse.  Of course they “had” to do “Godzilla” and “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”, but Blue Oyster Cult have so many great tunes they could have easily salvaged this set but…notta.  More cowbell you say???  

For the grand finale, company came calling…Bad Company that is.  Wow, no Bad Company fan on earth would have been disappointed with this show.   For starters, Paul Rodgers is the shit!  (that means good in Western Maryland talk)  The longtime lead vocalist was absolutely flawless during the entire 15-song set.  If he screwed up, he sure as hell covered it well.  After all of these years, Rodgers still hammers those high notes with ease and takes total control of his listeners while on stage.  The fact that he sang lead for Queen a few years back makes sense now.

The headliners kicked things off with “Can’t Get Enough”, “Honey Child”, then “Run With The Pack”.  The latter featured Rodgers on piano.  Considering Bad Company is one of the premier Classic Rock bands of all time, there was a great deal of nostalgia permeating the fairgrounds.  It was amazing to hear these legendary rockers nail “Shooting Star” with such power and clarity.

Bad Company ended their set with “Movin’ On” then closed out a two encore spell with “Bad Company” and “Ready For Love”.

Witnessing Bad Company in Frederick, Maryland is a part of Western Maryland music history.  This was probably the last time many of the 9000-plus ticket holders will ever see Bad Company again.  It’s even more doubtful that Bad Company will ever return to Frederick, Maryland.

This Outlaw jam was certainly a multigenerational event.  Bad Company provided incredible Classic Rock from as far back as the early ‘70s while Black Stone Cherry gave us all a good sample of what’s to come.   This was a great day for Rock & Roll fans in the four-state area surrounding Frederick, Maryland.  ~AMR~

Charlie Daniels Band
Loudoun Summer Musicfest
Ashburn, Virginia
July 25, 2010

By jeff taulton

So, you want to feel good about being an American?  Go to a Charlie Daniels concert!  Just when you think this country is heading in the wrong direction fast, Charlie Daniels sets up camp in Northern Virginia, just outside the D.C. city limits.  
In less than two hours, Daniels and his legendary Charlie Daniels Band (CDB) used their brand of music to present a lasting, inspirational and patriotic message.

Charlie Daniels is an American Music anomaly.  For over 50 years, he has jelled Country, Rock, Bluegrass, Gospel, Blues, and even Jazz into his own unique sound.  Actually, “Uneasy Rider” from 1973, was literally “rural rap” long before that genre hit the urbanites.  Give it a listen!  He raps for five minutes without singing any melody whatsoever, and that was way back in the early 1970s!

Daniels, with fiddle in hand, opened the Ashburn, Virginia show with ”Redneck Fiddlin’ Man” then, “Drinkin’ My Baby Goodbye”.   As he traded his trademark fiddle and bow for the iconic Gibson Les Paul Sunburst, Daniels boasted, “I left Eastern North Carolina in 1958 with a dream and a guitar.  I’ve made a living playing music ever since, and I want to thank you.”   The southern gentleman then kicked into, “The Legend Of Wooley Swamp” followed by “Saddle Tramp” from 1976. 

At an unbelievable 73 years young, Daniels appeared healthy and energetic while right in the middle of a record breaking Mid-Atlantic heat wave.

Unlike many musicians who charge you for the privilege of hearing them express their personal and/or political views, Daniels does it the right way.  He lets his music and songs do the talking.  Sure he says what he feels while on stage, but he does it with class.  Charlie Daniels refuses to insult his audience like so many others, who don’t know when to “just shut up and sing”!  Above all, this particular entertainer is very outspoken for his love of America and his support for the men and women who proudly serve in our military.  He has “been to the desert” many times and is a beloved ally of the American Soldier.

After the autobiographical “Simple Man”, Daniels introduced two of his very best longtime friends, Taz DiGregorio and Charlie Hayward.  For forty–plus years, DiGregorio has been the piano and keys section for CDB.  Hayward has held down the bottom on bass with CDB for over thirty years.  That’s a helluva lot of musical notes and roadwork between this close-knit trio.  Rounding out the twenty-first century version of CDB is Pat McDonald on drums with Bruce Brown and Chris Wormer sharing lead guitar.  Remember the latter.  He will be around for a long time with his version of the “William Tell Overture” on double-neck electric guitar!

Just then, Daniels did the politically incorrect and unthinkable!  He said the Pledge Of Allegiance to the United States Flag.  Take that… all of you public school system administrators!  The proud American topped off that honorary moment with “In America” from the early 1980s.

Daniels closed this very memorable set with what has become his signature song, “The Devil Went Down To Georgia”.  His final words of the day were of course, “That’s how you do it son.”

Charlie Daniels has dozens of albums to his credit, so it’s unrealistic to expect to hear all of your favorite CDB tunes at one show.  However, I must admit to being surprised and actually disappointed “not” to hear “South’s Gonna Do It Again” or “Still In Saigon”.

Some will argue that Charlie Daniels is Country while others declare he is Southern or Classic Rock.  Then there are those who think he is just plain “Bad Ass”!   Personally, I agree with all he above. ~AMR~

Charlie Daniels  Bad Company
          Jimmy Buffett
 Devon Allman   Jon Carroll
              Ricky Skaggs
Mountain Heart
                                          Peter Mayer
Black Stone Cherry
                       and more...

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