Justin R. Erenkrantz Where do you want to go today?

Grateful Dead

With respect to every other band that has ever performed live, no band could equal the experience of a Dead show. Now, of course, there was always a lot of drugs involved in their shows. I say, So what?

As someone who doesn't do drugs (!), it doesn't deprecate the music to me. Yes, they may have been higher than a helium balloon, but the music is still awesome.

Harpur College, May 2nd, 1970 is one of the best concerts ever recorded of the Dead (were there any that weren't recorded?). Of course, they played this concert exactly ten years before I was born. So, that's kind of cool that a concert this good was on my Birthday. Sweet. I know a bunch of other Deadhead's who have eerie connections to that night as well. Oh, yeah, on Dick's Picks Vol. 8 (Harpur College), Dick cut out Cold Rain and Snow from the CD. (Check DeadBase to see that, indeed, it was played that night!) Guess they couldn't get a clean version of the song. Supposedly a great version of that song was played that night. Anyway, I have heard nothing that can beat the acoustic set from that night. The other sets are stellar as well, but the acoustic set is on such a higher plane of existence, it rejects all comparisons.

The Cornell and Hershey Park concerts are fabulous as well.


Miles Davis

Miles Davis was the best trumpeter ever to have graced this planet. Bar none. No one could ever match Miles' musical range, skill, or diversity. Very few artists can transcend their genres and bring rise to new ones - Miles Davis did that. Miles started out with traditional jazz (a la 'Round About Midnight, etc.), temporarily left the "sheet-music" jazz for a more improvisational style (highlighted by Kind of Blue).

Then, Miles paired with Gil Evans for some orchestral masterpieces (Sketches of Spain, Porgy and Bess). Very few pieces can match the passion of Sketches of Spain's Saeta. For those of you not familiar with the concept of the Saeta, it is a ritual piece performed to commemorate the death of Christ by recalling the cry of the Virgin Mary as she watches from a balcony as Christ's body passes her below. It is a truly moving piece. In fact, Miles had to tell the orchestral players to ease up a bit on this piece, because they did not need to get it perfect. They relaxed, and it is as close to perfect as we shall ever see.

After his pairing with Evans, some jazz critics would say that Miles just went crazy. Hardly. One of the all time best albums I have ever heard is Bitches's Brew. Wow! I had heard a lot of other Miles Davis pieces before I heard Bitches' Brew, but "Wow!" doesn't begin to sum Bitches' Brew up. Bitches's Brew was just as revolutionary as Kind of Blue was. Except it started Miles on a jazz/rock fusion course.

That era is highlighted by the wonderful Evil set with the playing of the Miles Davis Band (from Quintet to Band!). An Electric Miles Davis band... Powerful music. But, it isn't like Miles just stopped playing the trumpet and picked up the guitar. Any Miles Davis fan listening to Bitches's Brew or the Evil set can instantly pick up Miles's distinctive tone (or as some critics say lack of it). Powerful, powerful stuff. Highly recommended.

Click here for an interview of Miles Davis that first appeared in Playboy Magazine in 1962.


Fleetwood Mac

Is there a better album than Rumours? It is an absolutely incredible album. Of course, by Fleetwood Mac, I mean the version the good version. Fleetwood Mac is to me: Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Christine and John McVie, and Mick Fleetwood.

Very interesting group dynamics (to say the least).

Rhiannon, Tusk, and Don't Stop are all incredible songs.


Rolling Stones

Has anyone outlasted them? Is Keith Richards still alive? How is that possible????

Their London Singles box set is highly recommended.


Chuck Berry

The greatest rock and roll guitarist ever. He permanently altered the music landscape.

Johnny B. Goode is a timeless classic.


Muddy Waters

The quinessential bluesman.

You can see his effect upon the Rolling Stones (who took their name from one of Muddy's songs) and B.B. King to name a few.

Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl is a great song.


Stevie Ray Vaughan

There are few concerts that can match the sheer power of Vaughan's Carnegie Hall concert. If you have a chance to pick up the recording of the concert (October, 1986), do. You won't regret it one bit. All of the songs are rocking.

This was Stevie's chance to play at Carnegie Hall when most of heroes (including Muddy Waters) never could. He played with such a passion that night. It is such a shame that Stevie died so young (as did Hendrix).


Paul Simon

One of the best songwriters of our time. He has been around for so long.

The Sound Of Silence and Here's To You, Mrs. Robinson are timeless classics. Then, in the mid-80s, he released Graceland. One of the defining albums of the time.

Graceland is an excellent fusion of American music and African music. If you've ever seen the video of You Can Call Me Al, you know it retired the best music video of all time. Paul Simon and Chevy Chase (back when Chevy was cool). Myth Of Fingerprints (or All Around The World) is a great song as well.


Santana

Carlos and company have been jamming for over thirty years.

The recently released album The Very Best Of Santana is wonderful. 73 minutes of Santana - all digitally remixed. Includes all of the Santana standards.


Cream

One of the first true superbands.

Sunshine Of Your Love is a definite rock classic.

Is there any doubt that Eric Clapton is a guitar legend?


Dave Matthews Band

Fusion at its best.

The Dave Matthews Band takes in a whole diverse elements and merges it together. When you stop and think about it, the violin (played by Boyd Tinsley) seems so out of place. But, it's not.

About the only band who has better live performances than DMB is the Dead (Los Lobos is up there as well).


Sarah McLachlan

Sarah puts so much passion into her songs.

Adia is a wonderful song. Building A Mystery is also very good.


Yo-Yo Ma

I know some people who say that classical music can not inspire the soul. Well, they have never listened to Yo-Yo. I recently went to a performance by Yo-Yo at the Irvine Barclay Theater ($85 a seat). Yo-Yo (sorry, I love that name!) performed Bach's Unaccompanied Cello Suites 1, 2, and 6. It was a truly moving performance. Very few musical pieces come close to the technical challenge of these suites and very few musical performers can play these suites at the level that Mr. Ma does. He performs with energy and passion. It is very clear that he loves what he is doing.

One of the other cool facts about Yo-Yo is that he is always doing different things. How many classical musicians would perform with Bobby McFerrin? How many would portray all 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites to some visual background (or foreground) as Yo-Yo did with the Inspired By Bach PBS series? Virtually none.

We are lucky to have Mr. Ma around. If you have a chance to see him, do. It's worth all the money in the world.


Loreena McKennitt

I'm ashamed it took me so long to buy one of her CDs. I started with The Mask And The Mirror, which is an excellent CD. A great fusion of music. I quickly purchased The Book Of Secrets. No regrets.

My favorite songs by Loreena are Marrakesh Night Market and The Highwayman.

Haunting and chilling voice. Great stuff.


Los Lobos

These guys are great. Kiko is a fabulous CD.

When The Circus Comes To Town and Kiko and The Lavender Moon are the highlights. It is is a shame that not everyone has a Los Lobos CD in their collection. Just Another Band From East L.A. indicates that these guys are exactly the opposite.


Cassandra Wilson

Wow. New Moon Daughter and Traveling Miles are both excellent. I just found out that Last Train To Clarksville was a Monkees song. Let's just say that when you hear Ms. Wilson sing it, you would never have guessed that. Her rendition of Strange Fruit is just as haunting as Billie's original version.

Traveling Miles is a much more sophisticated album, but just as wonderful.


Steely Dan

These guys apparently just won a Grammy or some such thing. Twenty years too late, if you ask me. They also seem to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

But, the kicker for me is where their name came from - see their FAQ. It sums up their attitudes on life.


Mary Chapin Carpenter

I have no clue why she wasn't listed on this page a long time ago. I've been a fan of hers for many years. She has turned out some great albums. Her lyrics are always just cool. Her latest album (Time*Sex*Love) is up to her normal lofty standards.


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