Pablonious Bill - Good opening set by an electric guitarist/singer with a sax player (playing pretty lightly and sporadically) and a drummer who had to join in just after the set started as he was downstairs. Kind of folk, kind of singer/songwriter style (apologies to people who hate that label, but it just seems to fit and I'll have to work on coming up with alternatives as I cringe a little whenever I write it). I enjoyed, the crowd was very supportive although I smelled a fair number of friends and family in the audience. No matter, good job.
Kuschty Rye Ergot - Third time seeing this band and I like them better every time out. They almost begin ambient, but I would say it is more rock soundscape style as the rhythm section really keeps a rock music feel which I think is a positive as too much ambiance or freak jazz moves often lose me unless the artists are really top notch. The music builds to more psychedelic rock and I felt sort of an Agitation Free type feeling as they shared a kind of eastern music prog sound that Ag-Free did so well. Two long instrumental songs and I was involved the whole way.
Love (featuring Johnny Echols backed by Baby Lemonade) - Ok, this just wasn't destined to be anywhere near as transcendent as when I saw this same lineup with Arthur Lee a few years ago. That was pure magic with Lee still only recently out of his ridiculously long prison sentence singing songs of freedom, playing with Baby Lemonade who he played with before incarceration as well and finding original guitarist Johnny Echols to join in on the tour. So this time around, Arthur Lee has joined Ken Forssi and Bryan Maclean in the dying way too early club and realistically this is about the only version that could call itself Love with the appropriate fuller explanation in parentheses. The set started well and did have some strong moments. The five piece was augmented with a guy who played some of Arthur's tambourine and harmonica parts, but also added trumpet and keyboards which was nice. Rusty Squeezbox's vocals did the songs justice and the players were all good. Highlights were "Stephanie Knows Who" from Da Capo which Arthur Lee didn't perform much and included some harpsichord and "Revelation" when they were called back for a unplanned second encore. A few of the smart audience were calling for this side-long monstrosity earlier in the set to chuckles and they did (thankfully) a short version which was kind of fun. For those not in the know, this is considered about the only mistake on Love's part where they devoted side two of their second album to a pretty dull and very long jam of a song. Echols sang this and Signed DC and still had some nice solos in him.
Robert Plant with Johnny Echols.
Quote of the night: Well, no interesting quotes, but I did pass Johnny Echols walking into Ben's Chili Bowl as I was walking out. I would have introduced myself, but my hand was sticky with chili overflow and needed to get to the club to clean up a bit. I would have liked to asked about the tour with some of the people involved as there were obviously some problems, but I really did not need to thanks to this excellent Washington Post article. Some good lessons here.