The sun is out and the fountain is starting to bubble forth from the bricks of The Grove. That means the clock is ticking down until Boise's Alive After Five summer concert series starts up again on Wednesdays.
The series has featured local openers for the last few years, and it will continue that tradition in 2013, with one big exception: the roster of local opening acts will comprised of Boise-based artists that are participating in the Boise 150 Compilation project.
From a press release:
As all of these artists have contributed songs about Idaho, are great performers, and hail from Boise or the Treasure Valley, the writing was on the wall for their participation in the longstanding AA5 summer concert season.
This means that Go Listen Boise, the local music promotion group that selects the opening acts, will not be issuing a call to bands like it generally does around this time of year.
Rory Block has blues in her blood. The Delta blues guitar player grew up in New York City’s bohemian West Village in the early 1960s. Her folk musician father held weekly jam sessions in his shoe shop, the Allan Block Sandal Shop, where Block learned her chops alongside bluegrass, country ragtime, blues, swing and early barrel-house jazz greats.
Block also had the opportunity to meet some of her blues heroes. She played guitar for Son House (who kept asking "Where did she learn to play like this?"), visited Skip James in the hospital, and sipped Maxwell House coffee with Mississippi John in Washington, D.C.
In Block’s lengthy life story on her website, she reminisces on these experiences:
“Many people ask me why a 14-year-old white girl from New York City felt so deeply and personally connected to the music of the black rural South from another era. How can you explain love? The music resonated inside me, felt real, beautiful, spoke to what was in my heart, moved my soul.”
Since that time, Block has recorded more than 20 albums, including tributes to Robert Johnson and Son House, and has garnered numerous blues music awards.
Block will perform tonight at Alive After Five. Local blues-roots band Sun Blood Stories will open.
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The funk, reggae and world music sounds of Billy Franklin’s NOLA Live will emanate from the Alive After Five stage tonight. Franklin, who is more widely known as the leader of New Orleans-based band E.O.E., has hand-picked his favorite musicians from The Big Easy to create the collaborative effort that is NOLA Live.
Franklin splits his time between three bands—E.O.E., NOLA Live and Smoke N Bones—and is known for his guitar skills and vocals, which are both moving and sweetly subtle. Musicians joining Franklin in NOLA Live include Doug Dietrich on bass, Michael Jenner on saxophone and Gabriel Velasco on drums and percussion.
Opening for Billy Franklin’s NOLA Live will be local alternative, rock, reggae and punk-infused band Nino Lobos. The music of Nino Lobos, a young group fresh out of high school, is influenced by multiple trips to Mexico City, where band members gleaned inspiration to create a sound with a Latin vibe.
Knoxille, Tenn., Americana band The Black Lillies will grace the Alive After Five stage tonight. The five-member group, headed up by lead singer, songwriter, mandolin and guitar player Cruz Contreras, was born from the wreckage of Contreras' marriage and former band, Robinella and the CCstringband.
But Contreras didn’t let this bump in the road get him down. Instead, he stepped out from behind the shadow of his former life and created The Black Lillies. Together with the talents of Tom Pryor on the pedal steel guitar, drummer Jamie Cook, harmony vocalist Trisha Gene Brady—whose sweet, then wildly strong voice balances Contreras' deep baritone—and bassist Robert Richards, Contreras tells an honest and heart-wrenching story of his musical rebirth.
The Black Lillies' debut album, Whiskey Angel, resonated with music lovers. Filled with deeply personal material and a style influenced by rock, blues, bluegrass, jazz and country, this album soon gained national attention.
Opening for The Black Lilies tonight will be local folk and Americana artist Lee Penn Sky. Alive After Five starts at 5 p.m.
The scorching heat, with temperatures creeping into triple digits, did not stop faithful Alive After Five goers from hitting the Grove on July 11. In fact, the sun seemed to just draw out more of a crowd, though chances are it had something to do with the much-anticipated performance by headliners Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears.
Opening band Bruce Alkire-Frogs of the North didn’t have a problem getting folks up on their feet to start the show. Their sound—a mixture of bluegrass, folk, Cajun, blues, polka, zydeco, swing and old country—filled the Grove with the stringy twang of a fiddle and the harmonious vibes of a rock and roll accordion.
When the band sent out a question to the crowd on how long they were supposed to play, they were answered with numerous “until we are drunk” responses.
As the Frogs began to sing, “I got my mojo workin’,” audience members were inspired to get their own mojos workin’ and boogied through the heat.
Between bands, an anxious crowd of live music lovers sought solace in the shade, downing cold beer while using copies of Boise Weekly as butt-buffers against the stove-top-hot brick ground. But the 30-minute intermission between the opening act and the headliner proved to be well worth the wait.
As soon as Lewis and The Honeybears began belting out their throwback funk and soul style, Alive After Fivers found it nearly impossible to resist the urge to get up and groove. By the Honeybears’ second song, there were more people up and shaking than there were seated.
Between taking swigs of his Dos Equis and showcasing his vocal talents, a sweetly dirty mixture of grit and soul, Lewis showed off his skills by playing his electric guitar with his teeth. All the while, the band’s brass section enticed the audience with their swinging enthusiasm.
This Austin, Texas-based band by no means disappointed Boiseans, who screamed a regular harmony of appreciation for the six-piece group.
Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears will fight the mid-July heat tonight to take the stage for Alive After Five. If the seven-piece band’s honest lyrics and gritty blues and soul sounds aren't enough to entice you to brave the scorching sun, don’t forget the water fountain and ice-cold beer.
Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears is known for its soul-baring lyrics, which cover everything from breakups and hookups to revenge and redemption. But the lyrics are backed by a cocktail of rock ’n’ roll, blues and funk influences gleaned from the band’s hometown music scene: Austin, Texas.
Lewis jumped into playing music when he pulled a guitar off the wall at a pawn shop where he was working, hoping to get out of the daily grind.
A few years later, after struggling to be heard and working on his chops, Lewis formed The Honeybears, named after a crusted jar of honey on the band’s rehearsal room floor.
The seven-member group has stayed true to its unique style, dubbed “a churning slab of rock ’n’ roll, blues and funk, laced with a double shot of 100-proof punkitude.”
Opening for Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears is Horseshoe Bend’s Bruce Alkire-Frogs of the North. The Frogs will deliver a good time with their multi-faceted musical style, which includes folk, Cajun, bluegrass, R&B, blues, polka, zydeco, swing and old country influences.
Alive After Five headlining band Andy Frasco and The U.N. exuded an awe-inspiring energy and musical passion on June 27, creating a massive shake-and-move fest on The Grove.
“It’s time to get drunk and have a dance party, I tell ya what,” said Frasco, the 23-year-old lead vocalist and keyboardist extraordinaire.
The five-piece jazz/blues band showcased its vocal, instrumental and dance skills, as well as its high-spirited talent for entertaining without holding back. The band's uninhibited style was well received by the crowd, especially when Frasco announced his recent single status, which was met with much high-pitched screaming.
But keeping it PG was an effort for the band, which is used to playing at late-night gigs in bars.
“If I try really hard not to cuss, I’ll make up words,” Frasco said.
Frasco showed off his dance moves throughout the performance, even jumping into the crowd to join the dance party on one occasion. Saxophonist Ernie Chang, also known as "The Asian Tom Cruise," found his way off stage as well when he took to a tabletop to perform.
“I knew when I was coming to Boise there were gonna be some kinky mo-fo’s in here,” said Frasco, between storytelling, breaking a key from his electric piano, asking for a hallelujah and holding his phone up for the audience to say hello to his mom.
But Andy Frasco and The U.N. were not the only ones inspiring Alive After Five goers to bust a move. Local lyrical hip-hop group and self-proclaimed nerds Dedicated Servers managed to get some early birds to demonstrate their skills in dropping it like its hot.
The local duo was first met with some apprehension from the crowd, but quickly gained attention with their quick-witted lyrical skills and their mission statement of following your dreams.
“If there is something you really want to do, and people are knocking you for it, you need to just do it,” said Dedicated Servers’ Peanut.
The party kept on going after the stage shut down on The Grove, as some of the Alive after Five crowd made their way over to join the Splash Bash at Owyhee Plaza Hotel. The pool party featured local group Soul Serene, which jammed out poolside in towels between dips.
And if music and cold drinks by the pool weren’t enough for Boiseans, Andy Frasco and The U.N. showed up to join in the Splash Bash fun, which resulted in one Boise Weekly intern being thrown into the pool, and a wet ride home.
Tonight’s Alive After Five will feature Andy Frasco and The U.N., a funky and energetic party blues band. Southern California native Andy Frasco, a quick-witted afro-clad 23-year-old, will get Boiseans moving with his jazz and blues style that was inspired by artists such as Damien Rice, Sam Cooke and Van Morrison.
Frasco began his love affair with music at the age of 17, when he met his soul mate—the piano. Shortly thereafter, he toured the United States with VH1’s Save the Music Foundation, playing 220 shows in 360 days to raise money for music education in the public school system.
Frasco heads up vocals for the band and plays multiple instruments, including the electric piano. Joining Frasco are saxophonist Ernie Chang, also known as “The Wiz” or “The Asian Tom Cruise,” and guitarist Shawn Eckels.
Opening for Andy Frasco and The U.N. is local narrative hip-hop group Dedicated Servers. Members MCMD and Peanut will showcase their lyrical skills to the compositions of Resident Genius.
Today's Alive After Five will feature the multi-genre musical artistry of Polecat. Members Richard Reeves, Karl Olson, Aaron Guest, Cayley Schmid and Jeremy Elliott combine their varied talents to create a finely tuned mixture of bluegrass, Celtic, rock and country.
Formed a little more than two years ago in Bellingham, Wash., the band utilizes drums, electric- and 12-string-guitars, a fiddle and upright bass. Polecat has already made quite a name for itself, performing more than 200 shows in its short time and releasing a full-length album, Fire on the Hill, and a self-titled EP.
Local duo Blaze and Kelly will open. Singer-songwriter Niccole Blaze and bassist Mo Kelly will entertain with their perfectly paired harmonies that come from years of sharing the stage. Blaze and Kelly are also known for entertaining with comic banter throughout their set.
Tonight at Alive after Five, the name of the game is bluegrass. Get ready for some banjo picking and fiddle strumming, as The Random Canyon Growlers and Sunnyvale Stringband take the stage for the second Alive After Five of the season.
The Random Canyon Growlers' six-person band features vocals, guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle and bass. Although the group is no stranger to the stage, it thrives on busking—or street performances at places like the Capital City Public Market.
Originally formed in Driggs by classically trained lead vocalist Jamie Drysdale in 2008, the group has accumulated talented musicians from places as near as Oregon and as far as Vermont. The band offers up a new take on Americana, incorporating the energy of punk rock and the soul of traditional bluegrass.
Introducing the theme of bluegrass and Americana will be openers Sunnyvale Stringband, which plays music ranging from traditional bluegrass to modern alternative. The band met at Boise State while studying geoscience and casually formed in the fall of 2010.