A lot of things have changed for me over the last year, including my commitment to music. It has grown by leaps and bounds. Recently, I was talking with a co-worker and we collectively decided that we had won the guitar lottery. Neither of us are ground-breaking, world-changing players, but we were in the right place at the right time with the right skills. Not only have I found the coolest job possible during the last year, but my musical vision has widened.
Therefore, I present you with a list of the albums that opened my eyes (and ears) over the last year.
Dirty Side Down – Widespread Panic. It took me a little time to fully get into this album. Once I spent some time listening to it and then going to see the band live, it all clicked. Now that Jimmy Herring has had some time to find his space in the band, I think WP is finally hitting their post-Mikey stride.
American Patchwork – Anders Osborne. From the opening de-tuned riff to “On the Road to Charlie Parker,” this album had me hooked. I had heard about Anders before this, but never really got into him until this album. In August, I went and did an interview with him in Chicago and he came across as genuine and frantic all at the same time. Two traits that true artists always have.
Orchestrion – Pat Metheny. To really get what this album is all about, you need to forget that it is a “solo” album. I think with Metheny’s last album, the need to create a long-form piece had been met. With Orchestrion you really hear how Metheny’s “sound” comes through. This is probably the tour I most regret missing this year.
Live at the Jazz Standard – Wolfgang Muthspiel & Mick Goodrick. I would consider this album on of the better modern jazz duo albums of all time. Both Muthspiel and Goodrick are intimately familiar with each others playing. This type of connection betweeen two musicians is rare and to have it translate to an album is somewhat of a musical unicorn.
Georgia Warhorse – JJ Grey and Mofro. Pure Georiga blue-eyed soul. JJ has been around for a while, but this album combines the swamp feel of his homeland with the uptown horns of New Orleans. Also, the songs are GREAT. Check out the documentary vid and dig the solo acoustic version of “Gotta Know.”
10/31/2010 – Phish. I didn’t get the chance to see the boys from Vermont this year, but from all the accounts I have read, Phish 3.0 have been melting faces and busting out some new jams. This Halloween show from Atlantic City found them paying tribute to one of their main influences by covering Little Feat’s Waiting for Columbus from front to back. I think for anyone who wants to like Phish, but hasn’t found something they dig, give them the second set of this show.
Living Proof – Buddy Guy. The solo on the opening track “74 Years Young” will make you reconsider the direction of your life. Guy rips into an unbelievable solo that is bursting with fire, intensity, and nearly 3/4 of a century of being one of the most legendary blues-stringers to pick up an axe. Pay attention.
Sugarcoating – Martin Sexton. I am a huge MS fan, and this album continues where the last one left off with a groovy band sound and some great writing. The only downer is the title track where Sexton takes a political slant with his lyrics. Martin, please leave the political stuff at home.
Blues, Ballads, and Favorites – Jimmie Vaughan. For his first solo album in nearly a decade, Vaughan captures the ’50s vibe perfectly and lays claim to the title of MTP (most tasteful player). His trademarked capoed guitar is in full force with a tone that is less Albert Collins and more Gatemouth Brown.
Groove Alchemy – Stanton Moore Trio. If hearing Stanton Moore play drums doesn’t make you either dance or pick up a drumstick and want to hit something, then check your vitals. Here, Moore along with organist Robert Walter and guitarist Wil Bernard head up to Levon Helm’s barn to combine funky, organ dance grooves with some burning modern jazz.
Roadsongs – Derek Trucks Band. After listening to this album and seeing Derek at the Crossroads Festival this summer, I firmly believe we will one day (probably very soon) be speaking his name alongside Beck, Clapton and Page. The sound he gets on this album is equal parts Duane Allman and Aubrey Ghent. You can tell the band has been hitting it hard and luckily on this night in Chicago the tape was rolling.
What albums did you really dig this year?
image courtesy of brent_nashville