On June 24, 2017, my husband and I, along two long-time friends were at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta for a night of Allman Brothers and Jerry Garcia cover tunes. The Allman Brothers catalog was performed by the aptly named Tribute, while JCBCB (Jerry Garcia Band Cover Band) handled the songs of their namesake. We were all quite pleased to come away from the concert, both bands having exceeded our expectations. The conversation on the way home was focused on which of the two bands we liked best, and it was unanimous: one band could not be picked over the other. They were both that great.
Tribute rocked the walls with one great song after another including “Whipping Post”, “Midnight Rider”, and even the audience chimed in during “Soul Shine.” Tribute wasn’t really trying to be the Allman Brothers, or even act like they wanted to be them; they were themselves, with their own style, singing Allman Brothers songs for the love of the music. And, they pulled it off with amazing grace and professionalism.
Photo Gallery – Tribute 6/24/17
JGBCB was an awesome breathe of style and grace, reminding us that Jerry Garcia was the soul of Grateful Dead. An icon in that right, but he was so much more, even as great as that was. Jerry Garcia has so much more music in circulation beyond the Dead. And JGBCB delivered that message to the audience with every note of every song. They played the music to us in the audience, and we gave them back our energy.
Photo Gallery – JGBCB 6/24/17
JGBCB/ TRIBUTE suggestion and/or opinion: If you ever get a chance to get tickets for their shows, do it. I dare you to go and then honestly say that you were disappointed. With either of these bands, your feet are just gonna groove with the music. We were so glad this concert was at the Variety Playhouse. I have attended several theaters in the Atlanta area, and in my opinion, there is no place better then Variety Playhouse. The acoustics there are in a league of their own. Last year the theater was renovated, and the new look compliments the core structure of the building. All the staff at The Variety Playhouse are sweet and friendly, along with professionalism.
We love going to Variety Playhouse for a night of music, and on Saturday, June 24, JGBCB & Tribute were amazing.
The Dillinger Escape Plan played at the Variety Playhouse on Friday, November 11th, touring in support of their final album, Dissociation. The Variety Playhouse is a beautiful WWII-era Art Deco movie theater cum music venue featuring a large balcony. The Variety Playhouse just completed a top-to-bottom renovation after its recent purchase by Agon, which also owns the Georgia Theatre in Athens. After twenty years and eight albums, The Dillinger Escape Plan is breaking up amicably to pursue different projects. Their final album, Dissociation, continues their recent trend towards moodier, more cinematic music. Dissociation may be slow and evocative in places, but Dillinger Escape Plan still treads the line between order and madness. You hear more of Greg Puciato’s range as a vocalist. I’ve seen Dillinger several times at the Masquerade, and it was nice to see them at the Variety Playhouse with it’s larger stage and better lightshow. Cult Leader, from Salt Lake City, Utah, Carbomb, from New York, and O’Brother from Atlanta, are joining them on tour. This tour of performances will finish up its American leg in Burlington, VT on November 17; Huntington, NY on November 18; and Hartford, CT on November 19, and then three shows in Canada, and then it’s off to Europe.
Cult Leader opened the night up. Three of the four members of Cult Leader played together as Gaza, a highly-respected grindcore band which itself dates back to 2006. Cult Leader released their first EP in 2014 on Deathwish records, and followed it up with a full length, Lightless Walk, and another EP, Useless Animal, both in 2015. They opened the night up strong, and I felt a lot of charisma coming off the front line of the band. The crowd was largely receptive. No one I talked to had seen them before, but enjoyed their set.
Carbomb played second, after their very impressive massive drum kit was assembled (two snares, two kick drums, four toms, and twelve cymbals!) It was worth it, because their drummer is incredible. The whole band was very tight, frequently stopping a blistering mosh breakdown on a dime. Carbomb formed out of two other bands, Neck and Spooge, who were sharing a rehearsal space in New York. Their sound is distinctly New York Hardcore, but with a progressive slant on it. It’s a great angle. The crowd loved it and the first mosh pit of the night made its appearance.
O’Brother, the penultimate act of the night, are very talented, if not a departure from the tone of the rest of the lineup. They remind me of Mogwai or Explosions in the Sky, but spacier. Some of their material is heavy, but nothing as screamy or bludgeoning as Carbomb or Dillinger Escape Plan. Nevertheless, the band threw themselves into their performance, and the singer was charming. Their band features a baritone guitar player (this instrument is halfway between the bass and the guitar) which thickens their sound considerably. Their arrangements were lush, but still allowed for some extended improvisation. O’Brother formed in Atlanta in 2006. They just released their third studio album, Endless Light, this year.
Before our headliner came out, the security guards warned me that they’d heard about them, and about how crazy their shows can get. If things got too bad up front, I wouldn’t be allowed to shoot for the full three songs I typically get. Dillinger is known for breathing fire, leaping from rigging twenty feet into the air into the audience and other antics. Fortunately, things didn’t completely devolve until after my photography was complete. The Dillinger Escape Plan took the stage, launching into Limerent Death, the first single from their latest album. They sprinkled in a number of their classic hits, like “One of us is the Killer” and “Sunshine the Werewolf” (A personal favorite!) Dillinger was formed in 1997 and went through some lineup changes in the early years. The man anchored at the center is guitarist Ben Weinman. Weinman is an intense performer, hurling himself and his guitar around the stage and into the crowd. No one in this band is a slouch on stage. But Weinman is in all places at all times. The band played a full set followed by a 3 song encore ending with “43% Burnt”, from their debut EP, released 17 years ago.
I met fans that drove five hours to see this show. These fans were 3 when Dillinger’s first EP came out. Most bands with this long of a history hit a rut, get a sound and run with it for their careers. Dillinger has never been afraid to reinvent themselves over and over.
Thursday, April 9 marked the return of Amanda Palmer to Atlanta since 2012’s Theatre Is Evil tour, labeled as an ‘Evening With Amanda Fucking Palmer.’ It was just that, with Palmer, her piano and ukulele made a stop at Atlanta’s Variety Playhouse in the heart of Little Five Points. Fans lined up hours before to be front and center to see their muse.
After all, who wouldn’t be excited to see Amanda Palmer? I mean it’s Amanda fucking Palmer after all. The creative genius that combines meaning into conceptual art, cabaret, theatre and breathes love and intent into each step of her journey, which she honestly, and carefully, shares with her fans in an utterly transparent and raw way. Palmer’s story is extraordinary, from her days as a living statue to being a founding member of the punk duo, the Dresden Dolls. Palmer made history setting records with crowd funding in 2012, with her album Theatre Is Evil. Being the first artist to reach 2 million dollars through Kickstarter, Palmer’s latest venture is in the realm of the written word, with 2014’s “The Art of Asking.” There is nothing she cannot do, and is willing to share her experiences with the world.
Palmer played to a sold out crowd in Atlanta. People were posting days and hours before on social media looking for extra tickets, with little to no avail. If you have ever been to an Amanda Palmer show before, you know exactly why – for the unique experience. One full of astonishingly intimate moments encapsulated in the human experience, from sheer happiness to the depths of sorrow, it’s a mixture of stark reality blended beautifully together with pure bliss and, of course, lots of laughter.
The alternative/punk songstress was mesmerizing to watch as she enraptured the crowd with songs spanning her career, like “Astronaut: A Short History of Nearly Nothing,” “Oasis,” “The Bed Song,” “Ampersand,” and “The Killing Type.” The really poignant moment was her cover of Ben Folds Five “Brick.” It was an interesting contrast of absorbing the content of the song while a pregnant woman sang about abortion. But the truly treasured moments were in between the songs; she shared her experiences of life, politics and even her pregnancy with the enthusiastic crowd. There is a deep connection between Palmer and her fans, with these quiet moments mixed with pure unadulterated passion and the exchange is simply beautiful.
Palmer walks to her own beat, unapologetically so, not caring what anyone else thinks or does. There is a fearlessness to Palmer, even when she is scared she is willing to reach out and try, try something new. Like becoming part of a new platform, Patreon which is altering the music industry and landscape. This strong, proud woman is on her own journey and thankfully she’s willing to carry us along for the ride – and what a glorious ride it is.
Catch Amanda Palmer out on the road, because it may be a while after her eight-date Southern tour before Palmer hits the road again.
Upcoming Tour Dates with Amanda Palmer
April 10 – Birmingham @ WorkPlay Theatre
April 11 – New Orleans @ Civic Center
April 14 – Austin @ Paramount Theatre
April 15 – Dallas @ Granada Theater ***SOLD OUT***
May 8 – Chicago @ How Design Live Conference
Some of the worst traffic in Atlanta hits on the first Friday after day light savings time ends every autumn. This year those heading to the Variety Playhouse in Little Five Points fought multiple traffic jams to find their way to see Ian Hunter. There might be an allegory in there to the long and tortuous career of Ian Hunter; I don’t know. But, it was the one thing we were all talking about. You see, the packed house of dedicated fans would have gone through worse traffic and inconvenience to see Hunter return to Atlanta for the first time in many years.
Hunter, famous for being the lead singer of Mott the Hoople and writing a number of songs that became hits for others, is touring the country going to venues and towns he had not been in decades. Always popular in the Northeast and the Southwest, even he admits he has never had a broad following in the South and Midwest (except northern Ohio). This tour is a chance to take his talents around the country. The excitement in the audience was more than enough to make up for a little traffic inconvenience.
Opening for Hunter were husband and wife duo Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby. Rigby found some fame being a favorite of Little Steven’s Underground Garage show and Sirius Channel; Wreckless Eric was a punk rock pioneer. Despite a wide age difference between the two of them, they play together effortlessly as if they had been playing for decades together. They put on a tight show alternating between one song from Wreckless Eric’s career and one from Rigby’s. The banter between them was light and breezy with a touch of irony, including a long story about Wreckless Eric not knowing what a Peach Pass was on I-85, and the cop still giving him a ticket for driving in the Peach Pass Lanes. While they did not sing Eric’s punk rock anthem, “Take the KASH,” the couple ended their long set with “The Whole Wide World” and “Dancing With Joey Ramone,” their biggest hits individually.
Hunter has been touring and recording with The Rant Band since 2000. Made up of younger NY and NJ musicians, along with his long time drummer, the Rant Band is one of the tightest bands in current rock ‘n’ roll and severe up nearly 50 rock ‘n’ roll with a freshness and verve that has the audience on their feet the entire show.
The set list was a mixture of Rant band songs from the past 15 years and classic Ian Hunter and Mott the Hoople Favorites. From the Mott days, songs included “All the Way From Memphis” and “Sweet Jane,” the Lou Reed cover. Classic songs from Ian Hunter’s solo career included “Standing in My light,” “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” and “Just Another Night.” New favorites “When I am President,” “Black Tears” and “Ta Shunka Witco (Crazy Horse)” stood out. In the core set, the stand out piece was “Michael Picasso.” The song is a soul-wrenching tribute to Hunter’s long term recording partner Mick Ronson, who passed away in the early 1990s. A prolonged encore was highlighted by Hunter’s signature song from Mott the Hoople, “All the Young Dudes.” Noticeably missing from the show were fan favorites “Irene Wild” and “Cleveland Rocks.”
In all, 75-year-old Ian Hunter proved that age is no deterrent to being able to provide solid, hard driving rock ‘n’ roll. Keeping with the traffic theme, the band hit the road immediately for three nights of gigs in Tennessee and several more weeks on the road. They go to Japan for the first time in 2015.
For over 60 years, Ian Hunter has pursued his love of music. By the mid-1970s, he had achieved rock and roll stardom as the front man for Mott the Hoople. During that time, the band’s cover of David Bowie’s All the Young Dudes became an anthem of sorts and his signature work. As a solo artist, he created enduring songs such as “Cleveland Rocks,” “Ships,” “Once Bitten-Twice Shy” and “All of the Good Ones are Taken.” Since 2001, he has been touring and recording with The Rant Band. At 75 years old, he continues as a vital and entertaining performer. Target Audience Magazine had a chance to talk to him about his upcoming Atlanta Concert.
To listen to the audio of this interview, visit the “Seriously, Dan!” website HERE.
I am very excited to be talking to rock and roll legend Ian Hunter about his upcoming Atlanta and Nashville appearances, and what is on the horizon for him and his band, The Rant Band. We will get to that, but first I want to talk about who Ian is as an artist, the secret to his long career and current vitality, and some of the great and varied contributions he has made to rock and roll and music over the course of his career.
Ian, thank you for being on the show to tell us how a kid from Shrewsbury, England ended up with one of the most storied and long lasting careers in Rock and Roll.
I happened to be there at the right time. I was 15, and all of a sudden Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry and all these amazing people sort of came to be, and I was a fan. How I got into it? I don’t know. Someone put a band together, and I got a phone call. And that was that.
Your time with Mott the Hoople is the stuff of stories, but your solo career has some incredible highlights. Short Back and Sides is my personal favorite and one of my top five! Tell me about that transition from front man to solo artist.
Well, I got my own way, which I kind of liked. Mott was a very diplomatic band. It (decisions) had to be 5-Null. It could not be 4–1 or even 3–2. That caused a lot of divisiveness. When I left, it was just me and Ronson, and we could say yes or no real quickly. And that was a big plus. The big minus was we did not sell the same amount of records as Mott did but we sold enough.
This was a big risk, but you were supported by some amazing people. How did your bringing your friends together help you create such enduring music?
I don’t know. In most cases they came on to me. I don’t remember going to anyone else. I may have done, but it was, one thing led to another. Queen used to open for Mott and they were in New York so they said ‘Let’s come down and do some harmonies.’ So I said, “Fine,” you know.
And you also did a lot of producing then?
I did a little bit, but I didn’t like it because you get the blame if it doesn’t work, and they get the credit if it does.
You mentioned Ronson, and you did some great stuff in the 1980s and 1990s, but you went through this transition when Mick passed away. What drove you to continue to create? What were those years like for you?
It was pretty bad during that time. We had gotten lazy before that. The 80s had gotten corporatized. Everything had gotten corporatized, including the music, so that kind of put us off a little bit. But, then when Mick passed it was a huge kick in the ass and I thought I had to get down to business. I have been lucky enough to have a little gift and I must treat it with respect.
Beautiful, I love that phrase: “I have been lucky enough to have a little gift and I must treat it with respect.” Recognizing that you have a gift and treating it with respect. In the last 15 years, you have continued to tour and make new music. I have been listening to “When I’m President” a lot. What is the story of that song?
It’s not a story, it’s just a guy in the bar sounding off. Well, you know, we have our favorites and the people we don’t like. We are all a little left and a little right. It’s just a guy in the pub.
You have worked with your kids from time to time. What is the most rewarding part of being a parent with your kids touring with you? Will they be with the Rant Band this time?
Yeah, yeah, yeah! Well, two of them. The third one—my oldest one—he’s in big business on his own. He’s done amazing. The middle two like music a lot and from time to time they get up. They will not be part of the tour, but the Rant Band will be there.
What advice do you have for artists who struggle to get their careers going?
Well, it is changing so quickly and there are so many avenues of getting things out. But the people who stunk up the record industry will probably stink up the web. It very difficult for young ones starting out. It was not easy for us starting out, but it’s a lot easier than for the young ones starting out.
There used to be more songs, more artists, and more albums. People used to put out two to three albums a year and you don’t see that any more.
Well I guess it’s about the touring aspect. People tour a lot now. Touring is the thing that is left.
People have to tour because that’s where the money is, compared to when the labels were in business and we had proper charts. People knew where they were. It’s very difficult now.
Fortunately, I started out with the Rant Band 14 years ago. And we had a real good growing concern. We just got back from Europe and after the states we are going to Japan. It’ll be my first time.
How is it different touring in the U.S. than Europe?
It’s about the same. It’s a bit further away. You see more airports which is a drag, but it was great. Nothing to report.
For a long time I know you were in New York. Are you living in the U.K. now?
I live about an hour and 15 minutes north of New York now.
Your U.S. tour is starting and Atlanta and Nashville are up on the agenda. You are in Atlanta Nov. 7 at the awesome Variety Playhouse. Are you familiar with Atlanta? Have you had a chance to get to see the city ever?
I was there with Ronson sometime in the 1980s. I haven’t been to Nashville either. The whole idea of this trip was to go places we have never been. We do fine in the Northeast and the Southwest. Or, at least go places I haven’t been to in 35 to 40 years. Open it up a little bit.
And finally… if you take highway I-40 east from the Mississippi River toward Nashville, you will be coming all the way from which city?
I would imagine that’s Memphis! I am looking forward to Memphis, I haven’t been there since (I wrote the song), back in 1973!
I am sure we will have a lot of fun at your concert in Atlanta on Nov. 7 at the Variety Playhouse!
I guarantee it!
Thank you Ian Hunter! Everyone in Atlanta and Nashville (and Memphis, Tenn.), get your tickets now. He is what rock and roll really is all about.
Better Than Ezra returned to Atlanta April 30, playing to a packed crowd at the Variety Playhouse with support from Jon McLaughlin.
The New Orleans natives have now been making music together for more than 25 years and are set to release an 8th studio album this summer. Better Than Ezra is well known for its fun, high energy live performances and the band did not disappoint with this set, with tracks ranging from the 1993 debut Deluxe to the stellar new songs.
“King of New Orleans” from 1996’s Friction, Baby got the night started off right, with front man Kevin Griffin being his enigmatic self on stage, playing up the crowd as the band continued with “A Southern Thing” from 2005’s Before the Robots and “A Lifetime” from 2001’s Closer. New song “Gonna Get Better” was well received while fan favorite “Extraordinary” had the entire venue singing along.
Current single “Crazy Lucky,” a quintessential Better Than Ezra song with its catchy hook and fun lyrics, kept the crowd moving and afterward, Griffin joked that they wanted to play their current single back to back with their first ever single, before launching into “Good” from Deluxe.
Griffin was a natural performer throughout the lengthy set, remaining invested in the audience while cracking up and having fun on stage with his band mates, drummer Michael Jerome and bassist Tom Drummond. No Better Than Ezra show would be complete without a breakdown, which the band chose to do during “Desperately Wanting,” playing teases of “Diamonds” by Nathan and “The Spirit of Radio” by Rush before finishing the song. Griffin then joked with the audience that they wanted to “rehearse a song for you guys” before launching into a cover of “The Boys are Back in Town” by Thin Lizzy to close out the set, but not before drummer Michael Jerome was challenged by Griffin to rock an epic cowbell solo.
Kevin Griffin returned to the stage to play a gorgeous acoustic version of “Porcelain” before the rest of the band came back out for “In the Blood” to end the night.