Shot in the Dark: Utopia’s ‘Adventures in Utopia’ at at 40

Utopia – or Todd Rundgren’s Utopia, as it was originally and would years later again be known – started out as one thing and became another. In its original form, Utopia was a progressive rock band modeled on a foundation similar to that of acts like Yes and Mahavishnu Orchestra. And while those two groups

Ottmar Liebert: Combining Traditional and Modern

Five-time Grammy Award nominee Ottmar Liebert is German-born. His music is rooted in the traditions of Spain. And he lives in the American Southwest. Somehow, those disparate elements combine to make guitar-based music that has one foot in tradition, the other in modern, pop-style accessibility. Though he’s a technically accomplished and ambitious musician, Liebert says

From the Archives: Review of Yes in Concert, Feb. 3, 2017

The following is an edited reprise of a Facebook post of mine from February 2017, three years ago this week. — bk Thoughts on last night’s YES concert in Cherokee NC… I’ve seen YES twice before, or three times depending on how you count. The first was the “90125” tour, which was remarkable for the

Album Review: Vvitchgang Coven – s/t

Music consumers can be forgiven for thinking that every possible combination of genres has been explored and exploited. Hip-hop/country? Check. Christian death metal? Yes. Hard rock-meets bluegrass? Sure; years ago, in fact. But enterprising artists remain on the prowl for new and interesting ways to link together the heretofore unconnected. And as best as I

Rich Nelson: Seconding That Emotion

It’s not unknown for a creative artist to work in two very different media. But it’s remarkable when an artist achieves success in both. That’s what has happened in the case of Rich Nelson. Detroit-raised and living in Western North Carolina since 2005, Nelson is an acclaimed portraiture and landscape painter. He’s also an accomplished

Jerry Jemmott: The Groovemaster (Part 5)

Continued from Part Four… Starting in 1978, Jemmott’s group, Souler Energy, played a mix of styles that showcased the range and versatility of its rotating cast of players. Jemmott also got into arranging, work for theater, and instruction. In addition to recording and releasing a trio of solo albums, Jemmott has produced a number of

Jerry Jemmott: The Groovemaster (Part 4)

Continued from Part Three… The studio gigs kept coming. “I was busy,” Jemmott says. “I was real busy.” But as much as he enjoyed his heavy session schedule, he was starting to burn out. “Duane [Allman] and I wanted to part ways with making records at one point,” he says. “In fact, I think it

Jerry Jemmott: The Groovemaster (Part 3)

Continued from Part Two… Jemmott knew how King’s music usually sounded, but he also knew why people booked him as a session bassist. “People usually call me to do something different,” he emphasizes. “So it was a matter of watching his hands. Whatever he did, I did something different. It was always that blues triplet

Jerry Jemmott: The Groovemaster (Part 2)

Continued from Part One… But now he had to learn to play the new instrument. “And it didn’t happen right away,” Jemmott says. “I had encountered it before, but the sound just turned me off. I said, ‘I will never play one of these things.’” But he felt that he had no choice. “I knew

Jerry Jemmott: The Groovemaster (Part 1)

Jerry Jemott is known as the Groovemaster. An in-demand session musician, he’s one of the most recorded bassists ever. Though his musical foundation is in jazz, he played on many of the greatest and most well-known singles and albums across a wide swath of genres. That’s him on Aretha’s “Think.” Jemmott plays bass on B.B.