Upcoming Concert Reviews of Graham Weber, Tim Reynolds and More...

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Burnt Sugar



Graham Weber with The Kentucky Struts

Wednesday · Southgate House

Graham Weber is a Cincinnati native, at least by Cincinnati standards — he went to high school here, which is, of course, 80 percent of your identity in the QC. Fortunately, the rest of the world will remember the young balladeer for what happened after his Lakota West graduation. His first move was to Kent State University. Initially torn between acting and songwriting, he followed his heart to L.A., where it was summarily trampled. Upon returning to Kent, he joined Roger Hoover's Whiskeyhounds, polishing his showmanship with the acclaimed Americana band. Weber finally made his solo debut in 2003 with Naive Melodies, a sparse but moving collection of haunting Folk tunes. Inspired by its success, he made a gutsy move, diving into the biggest singer/songwriter pond of all: Austin, Tex.

"The scene is very competitive, but I knew that going in," Weber says. "And I've done much better than I could have imagined. It's the place to be for Americana, and the city has taken me in with open arms."

If proof of his naturalization is required, it's contained on his brand new disc, Beggar´s Blues.

Backed by a who's who of Texan sidemen, he hits very close to the mark made by his Austin mentor, Slaid Cleaves. Like him, Weber's Folk/Country hybrid is an inviting mix of the familiar and the unexpected. He hopes this album "will lay the foundation for a few different records I'm getting ready to make when the time is right." This recursive inclination might lead him into the footsteps of forebears like Bob Dylan and John Prine, artists who eluded pigeonholing with an ever-evolving approach. For now, has his sights set on a simpler goal: a homecoming.

"I haven't been back since I moved to Austin," he says, "but I'm planning to really focus on this area 'cause it's home and I've got a good fan base here." Weber has three local appearances this week: Wednesday at the Southgate House, Saturday at Parrish Auditorium (at the Hamilton branch of Miami University) and Sunday at Leo Coffeehouse. (Ezra Waller)

Tim Reynolds with Adam Gloeckler

Thursday · The Mad Frog

A funny thing happened on the way to Tim Reynolds' quiet little career as a spectacular but relatively obscure musician; in a fortuitous event of life-altering proportions, Dave Matthews met him. Reynolds was a military brat whose musical talent revealed itself at an early age, as he began studying guitar at 12 and ultimately moved on to a variety of other instruments such as bass, sitar, mandolin, piano and violin. His family's numerous moves finally landed him in Charlottesville, Va., where he joined a succession of bands that highlighted his love of '60s guitar heroes like Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana and Jimmy Page.

In the late '80s, Reynolds formed his own band, TR3, which reflected his expanding musical tastes, as he incorporated Reggae, Metal and Industrial influences into his Rock and Jazz foundation. About the same time, Matthews, another well-traveled Charlottesville resident, started writing songs and assembled his self-named band to help him realize his musical vision. Playing in the same small local scene, Matthews and Reynolds crossed paths frequently; when Matthews first entered the studio, he offered Reynolds a guest slot on his early recordings. As Matthews' fan base began to expand exponentially, Reynolds found himself being sought out by DMB's increasingly rabid listeners, leading him to concentrate on his own recording career.

Reynolds continued to appear on DMB albums, and when Under the Table and Dreaming became the band's breakout hit in 1994, he found his fame climbing almost as rapidly. Reynolds' association with Matthews continued through DMB recordings and tours in the '90s, culminating in a series of annual acoustic duo college tours in the latter part of the decade. One of these intimate tour dates at Colorado's Luther College in 1999 became Live at Luther College, a two-disc, platinum-selling hit that debuted at No. 2 on Billboard's album chart. Since the late '80s, Reynolds has released 11 solo albums, including his most recent, last year's Parallel Universe. With Matthews' success showing no signs of abating after 12 years, Tim Reynolds' continued success seems a foregone conclusion. (Brian Baker)

Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber with Iswhat?!

Thursday and Friday · Southgate House (Parlour)

There are many musicians who insist that their music doesn't fit under any genre tag. Most of these complaints are unfounded; almost all of the artists who claim to be immune to pigeonholing are usually easily classified with an accurate one- or two-word descriptor. But not Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber, a free-form but rock-solid collective from New York City that's been blowing minds since 1999 with its colorful and boundless spectrum of sound.

The improv-heavy, multi-cultural collaborative is the brainchild of Greg Tate, a guitarist, founding member of the Black Rock Coalition and noted music/culture writer/author whose work has appeared in The Village Voice and Rolling Stone. Tate is said to have modeled Burnt Sugar on Miles Davis' Bitches Brew-era band, when Davis opened the creative floodgates to explore beyond the confines of traditional and then-modern Jazz; Tate also employs a system called "Conduction," developed by sometime collaborator Butch Morris as a way to intuitively lead a group of improvising musicians.

The Arkestra itself features around 40 musicians (bassist Jared Nickerson says the roster for the group's Southgate stop, featuring a mere 14 players, is a "skeleton crew"), many of whom are known in their own right, including members who have played with William Parker, Freedy Johnston and The The. From piece to piece (and often overlapping), the group incorporates progressive Jazz, cutting Hip Hop, suave Neo and Classic Soul, teeth-bearing Hard Rock and various forms of Experimental music, sounding like a groundbreaking, no-holds-barred jam session between Sun Ra's band, Funkadelic, Bad Brains, The Roots and Wolf Eyes. It's an alternately exhausting and reinvigoratingly spiritualized listening experience, one that should prove to be even more transcendent in a live setting.

The group's two-night stand on the intimate Southgate second floor also features Iswhat?!, the like-mindedly genre-busting local crew who are earning major international notice. Frontman Napoleon Maddox, who's been tinkering with the group's lineup since the departure of bassist Matt Anderson (local bass wunderkind Chris Walker has most recently been holding down the low end), has performed with the Burnt Sugar family in Europe and New York City and will be lending his considerable beatbox/rhyming skills to this week's local BS shows as well. (Mike Breen)

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