Ghost Light's Scotty Zwang Talks McGuire Zwang Duo & Life in Lockdown May 15, 2020 10:47

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

There is no doubt that we are in the midst of the most uncertain and troubling times that the world of music has ever seen. In nearly the blink of an eye, all forms of live music and entertainment were shut down amidst the COVID-19 global pandemic. The mission of Live & Listen has always been to provide a valuable platform for our favorite bands and musicians to build their audience, and there has never been a more important time do so.

Ever since catching Dopapod for the first time in 2014, I've been absolutely blown away by drummer Scotty Zwang. His energy, stage presence, and technique demands your attention and never fails to entertain from start to finish. Zwang has since moved on and toured with a number of nationally touring acts, most notably Ghost Light, which also features guitarist Tom Hamilton (Joe Russo's Almost Dead), keyboardist Holly Bowling, guitarist Raina Mullen, and bassist Dan Africano.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Scotty to learn a little more about his latest project, McGuire Zwang Duo, as well as how he's coping with life in quarantine. While this is a tremendously challenging time for professional, nationally-touring musicians, folks like Scotty are making the most of the situation and preparing to come back stronger than ever. Check out the full conversation below and make sure to follow McGuire Zwang Duo on all major social channels.

Photo by Donna Winchester: DonnasPics

Well, we're certainly in the midst of some crazy, uncertain times. This pandemic has hit the music industry as hard as any. How is everything going on your end, and what are you doing to stay productive and keep your mind in the right place?

Scotty: For sure. It's definitely a big change of pace. For so many of us, it has taken away what we do for a living, which is performing live. The music industry has evolved in a way that the most important thing you can do now is tour, sell tickets, and sell merchandise. Over the years, album sales have been down a lot. So this pandemic has definitely been tough and very different. The hardest aspect for me is that I live in an apartment. I'm trying as many different ways as possible to get creative. I've shifted a lot of focus to writing music. I will produce or write songs in Ableton, which is a digital workstation that I've grown comfortable with using over the years. It's been challenging to figure out what it is that I can do differently from touring. I've been fortunate to be able to play drums on the road so often, whether it be rehearsals or just having a place to play, that I've never really worried so much about not having a drum kit in my living space. My fiance and I had been looking for a more comfortable living situation, and the spot that we found was an apartment. 

There's just no room to set up a drum kit, on top of the noise issue and dealing with neighbors. It's been a major shift, and I've also had to shift my career back to teaching a lot more, which has been incredible. I've definitely realized how much I have missed teaching and just how rewarding it is to teach. Especially younger, or even just newer students, and just kind of kick starting their musicianship with the instrument. I've only been able to do it with a drum pad, but there is so much you can do with just a pair of sticks and a drum pad. Some of my students don't even have a drum pad. They just have their sticks, and they're playing on their bed or a pillow or whatever it might be. In the very early portion of the pandemic, some of them didn't even have sticks. We would just go over rhythm with their hands on percussion instruments or toys at home. I don't have any of that here, so I would just be doing it on a stack of paper plates and bowls (laughs).

Sounds like Trey Anastasio playing on rolls of toilet paper and wine glasses.

Scotty: Yeah, exactly. This pandemic gives you the opportunity to be a little more creative than you normally would have been. So, it's been rewarding in that sense, where I am spending a lot more time writing and teaching. I'm very grateful that I still have some form of income, as well as feeling really fulfilled, finances aside, with teaching, creating new music, or doing whatever it is that I normally wouldn't have time to do because I'm on the road. 

I've heard similar feedback from other musician friends who have had to direct all of their efforts to teaching. It's great to see those who are being able to stay busy and generate some new income. I know that hasn't been the case for everyone though.

Scotty: Yeah, for sure. Fortunately, I have my weekly lessons with students that I have built a strong student/teacher relationship with. With the technology of Zoom, Skype, or whatever it is that you're using, this is something that we can even continue when life gets back to normal when we're on the road. 

That seems to be one positive from all of this. I feel like a lot of musicians have realized that they can continue to teach virtually and generate additional income throughout the year, which is great to see. 

Scotty: Exactly. That's kind of my plan moving forward. Why not? Continue to teach. More so than just the income that's being missed by not touring, it's that much more rewarding to be able to play concerts at night and be able to teach during the day. You can do that from anywhere as long as you have a strong internet connection. That's kind of my plan moving forward from here. 

Well let's dive into the McGuire Zwang Duo. Tell me about the backstory. How did this project get started, and how have things progressed to where you are now?

Scotty: Ian (McGuire) and I have been playing music together since just before 2010. We were in a band called Sonic Spank. That's kind of where I started playing a little bit more in the jam scene and primarily the "livetronica," if you will, genre of music. Ian has always been one of my favorite keyboardists, both classically trained from a young age, as well as jazz trained at the Berklee College of Music. He's always been super fun to work with, and we have a great relationship. We're able to think very like minded, rhythmically, on a musical sense. We feed off of each other in a very special and unique way. 

When I moved to Philly in 2017, we had talked about doing a new project. There would be these opportunities where someone might need a band to open on a show they're putting together, but there isn't much of a budget. So I was thinking about how I could put something together with as few musicians as possible, in order to get the best bang for our buck. That kind of formed this band, which was originally called McZwang, and we decided to change the name to McGuire Zwang Duo. It sounds a little more profession, and it really helps showcase that it's just the two of us in this thing. Plus, it doesn't sound like a fast food chain (laughs). 

It worked pretty well for the Benevento Russo Duo.

Scotty: Exactly. We kind of took a page out of their book. I know they started similarly. There wasn't much of a budget. One of them had a residency at The Knitting Factory and had to figure out how to make that money go around and put more of it in your pocket. So, we've just been working on that. We've been working on an EP and putting out a record, because we haven't had much music out. When we changed the name, we had a little celebration show at this studio here in Philadelphia that also does smaller live shows. We had a gathering where we could capture that energy of a live show, but in a much more intimate setting. 

We just released our first set. Which is really the first half of a show with just Ian and I. During the second half, we had Danny Mayer on guitar, who plays with Eric Krasno Band. He's also in Star Kitchen with Marc Brownstein. We also had Jon Coleman, who is one of our favorite bassists. His band is called Muscle Tough. He does a lot with the Philly music scene, so we invited those guys to play the second half of the show with us. In the next few weeks, we will put out the second recording. For now, we've just released the first half, which focuses specifically on Ian and I as a duo. 

Very cool. You've obviously been involved with several major projects at this point in your career. What has this project allowed you to do differently as a musician? What about this duo excites you on a creative level?

Scotty: This kind of combines everything that I have learned over the past decade of touring full time. It takes all of those nuggets that I have learned over the years and combines them into a small, compact project. When you have several other musicians involved, whether it's a trio or even five people, as we have with Ghost Light, it can become harder and harder with all of those people connecting. It takes a lot of practice, but you can have that connection with however many people in a band. When you can have that connection between just two people, that stream of consciousness can happen so much faster. Especially with Ian, who at this point I've been playing music with longer than anyone else I've played with in the 20-25 years I've been playing my instrument. 

There is a connection there that is very different than anything I've ever done. It kind of takes everything we've learned from live improvisation and electronic dance music, and it incorporates more of the modern jazz approach that is happening now with people like Mark Guiliana and his band Beat Music, which has been a big influence on us. He also has a project with Brad Mehldau which is called Mehliana. Taking more of that jazz approach and the fusion on danceable jazz and electronic music. Maybe some of the Squarepusher influence as well in there. Trying to cater to not only what we're used to in the jam band scene, but also trying to stretch out into new avenues that we've never played in before. 

Listen to set one from McGuire Zwang Duo at Boom Room Studios here:

That's awesome. So you guys just released the first set of the live session. Have you guys released any studio material at this point?

Scotty: We've wrapped up production on our first EP. It's not quite a full album. It should be out later in the year. We're still wrapping up a few things there. We were going to try and release it pretty soon, but then all of this other stuff happened. It had to take a back seat, so we could figure out what life during a pandemic was going to look like. 

Well, I know it's hard to figure out exactly what the future is going to look like. Hopefully, you'll be able to get back to touring before too long. You obviously have Ghost Light continuing to take off. I'm sure that will continue to trend in a positive direction. How do you foresee the balance working out, and just how active do feel that the duo can be on your calendar?

Scotty: Over the last year or so, I've been having a much bigger focus on my life and work balance. When I was with Dopapod, we were playing anywhere from 120-150 shows a year. It was a lot of touring, and there wasn't much balance with my life. It was easy to feel a little burnt out. With Ghost Light, that has obviously been my main focus, but I did want to have something else to be able to focus on as well. Something to divide my time musically when Ghost Light is not on the road. We're only doing about 70 shows a year, and there is definitely some extra time in there to have other focuses creatively. I'm still balancing things out and making sure I put time aside for myself, life with my family, and obviously my fiancee. It's looking like I'll be doing Ghost Light about 1/3 of the year, and close to but not as much with McGuire Zwang Duo. 

Our aim is about 50 shows a year, maybe a little more depending on where it goes. We're going to try to do baby steps from there. Before any of this happened, Ian teaches a lot of students. He also has a few other projects. He is a full-time member of Lets Danza, which features the other members of Brothers Past, which is Tom Hamilton's former band. When he's not busy doing that, or his other project CIA (which features Clay Parnell and Allen Aucoin from The Disco Biscuits), he is teaching a lot. This is kind of a way for us to focus musically on something else. Something we can be creative with and have a little more control, with it just being the two of us. Once things open back up, we're hoping to continue with that goal of at least 50 shows a year and see what happens from there. 

Love hearing that. Is there anything else pertaining to the Duo that you'd like to mention?

Scotty: Well, we will definitely have set two, featuring Danny Mayer and Jon Coleman, coming out May 22nd. A little later in the year, you should definitely be keeping an eye out for our first studio release.

Can't wait to hear all of this material. Please keep us posted and let us know whatever we can do to help spread the good word. Always a pleasure chatting with you man. 

Scotty: Likewise. Thanks so much Jordan.

The Werk Out Music & Arts Festival Returns This Weekend August 1, 2017 15:46


Photos by Josh Timmermans: Noble Visions

While festival season may be slowing down a bit, one of our favorite annual weekend lies ahead at Legend Valley in Thornville, Ohio. After finally making it up for The Werk Out Music & Arts Festival last year, we immediately knew that this would be a can't miss occasion moving forward. Host band The Werks put in countless hours preparing and planning for this weekend each year, and one can only imagine what's in store for this festival's eighth installment this weekend.

This year's lineup promises to satisfy cravings for a wide variety of genres, with many of the festival scene's hottest acts coming together for the weekend. Several elements of this year's Werk Out have us particularly excited, and that all starts with The Werks headlining the main stage on all three nights. This includes a special 'Werktronic' set on Friday night, which promises to bring a serious dance party and even a few special guests. There is absolutely no telling what these guys will do at Legend Valley, and this year should be no different.

Two of last year's Werk Out favorites, Dopapod and Twiddle, will both return this year for two nights each. While Dopapod has been a staple for several years, Twiddle made its debut just last year, and it's hard to imagine a Werk Out without them in the future. This year will also feature the second installment of Twerkapod: Tribute To The 90's, which will include a rotating cast from The Werks, Twiddle, and Dopapod. This set is scheduled for 2:15 AM on Saturday morning, and one can only imagine what these guys have planned for round two.

Watch highlights from Twerkapod here:

Fans of the jamtronic scene are in for a major treat this year, as Gramatik and Emancipator are both scheduled for late night sets, and The Floozies will be on the main stage before Friday night's 'Werktronic' set. Werk Out veterans Zoogma also returns for two nights, while Future Rock will be handling the final set of the weekend at 3:00 AM on Sunday morning. Friday night's SunSquabi set on the Side Stage also promises to be a wildly entertaining hour of music, while Ivan Neville & Dumpstaphunk will surely have funk-filled party planned for their set on Saturday.

One of our favorite elements of this festival is its focus on bringing in many of the hottest 'up-and-comers' from across the country. Between BIG Something, Reed Mathis & Electric Beethoven, Spafford, and CBDB, its tough to decide who we're most excited about. The Electric Beethoven lineup features some serious players with Reed Mathis (Tea Leaf Green / Billy & The Kids), Todd Stoops (RAQ), Jay Lane (Ratdog/Primus), and Clay Welch. The entire concept of 'classical dance music' and this band's reinterpretations of Beethoven's symphonies is mind blowing. BIG Something, Spafford, and CBDB have each had huge years thus far, and they have certainly been in heavy rotation on our personal playlists. The weekend's sleeper set could easily come in the form of Funk You on Saturday afternoon. There is a reason that the Georgia-based funk outfit is crushing the southeast market.

While we already touched on the Twerkapod tribute set, there are several other tributes worth checking out this weekend. Last year's Broccoli Samurai set was one of our weekend highlights, and this year's Lotus tribute will surely be a hot topic. Additional tribute sets will come in the form of Oh Kee Pah: Tribute To Phish, Bulls On Parade: Tribute To Rage Against The Machine, Any Colour: Tribute To Pink Floyd, and Arrows of Neon: Tribute To The Grateful Dead.

While the lineup never disappoints and the operations of this festival are first class, the true magic lies within the sense of community. Those who have attended know exactly what we mean, and those heading to Ohio this weekend will feel it as soon as they arrive. The Werks have created, maintained, and grown one of the best parties in the midwest today, while always keeping the focus on the fan experience. The band members make a point to roam around, speak with fans, and enjoy the experience themselves. The sense of community that surrounds this band is the main ingredient in this festival's success, and we look forward to enjoying the ride for many years to come.

Watch The Werks perform "Carry Me Back Home" at The Werk Out 2016 here:


The Werks Announce Initial Lineup For The Werk Out Music & Arts Festival March 9, 2017 12:22

Photo by Josh Timmermans: Noble Visions

Veteran jam band The Werks has revealed the initial lineup to the 8th annual The Werk Out Music & Arts Festival at Legend Valley in Thornville, Ohio on August 3rd-5th.  Quickly becoming one of the most anticipated festival of the summer, The Werk Out consistently features several established national headliners, along with many of the hottest up-and-coming bands from across the festival scene.  Host band The Werks is scheduled to headline all three nights, while additional performers include 

Gramatik, The Floozies, Emancipator, Dopapod (two nights), Dumpstaphunk (featuring Ivan Neville), Future Rock, Zoogma (two nights), Sunsquabi, Big Something, Spafford, Jonathan Scales FourchestraJahman BrahmanJoe Marcinek BandCBDBBrother's GowSubterraneanElectric Orange Peel, and many more to be announced. A collaborative TWERKAPOD: A Tribute to the 90s – Vol. 2 set was also announced following last year’s debut featuring members of The Werks, Dopapod and Twiddle. 

See below for highlights from last year's Werk Out 2016, and make sure to head over to the festival's official website for further details and ticket options.  Stay tuned for future updates and lineup additions!

The Werk Out Music & Arts Festival Initial 2017 Lineup

  • The Werks
  • Gramatik
  • The Floozies
  • Emancipator
  • Dopapod
  • Dumpstaphunk (featuring Ivan Neville)
  • TWERKAPOD: A Tribute to the 90s – Vol. 2
  • Future Rock,
  • Zoogma
  • Sunsquabi
  • Big Something
  • Spafford
  • Jonathan Scales Fourchestra
  • Jahman Brahman
  • Joe Marcinek Band
  • CBDB
  • Brother’s Gow
  • Subterranean
  • Electric Orange Peel

High Sierra Music Festival Adds Major Lineup Additions February 10, 2017 16:39

High Sierra Music Festival has confirmed one of the most impressive lineups of 2017 thus far, with performers such as Trey Anastasio Band, Ween, STS9, Snarky Puppy, Galactic, Mike Gordon, The Greyboy Allstars, The Infamous Stringdusters, Corey Heny & The Funk Apostles, Keller Williams, Fruition, Dopapod, The Werks, and many more.  Tickets and weekend passes are available now via the High Sierra official website. See below for a complete list of 2017 performers.

High Sierra Music Festival is a multi-day music festival held in Quincy, California, a mountainous area about 80 miles northwest of Reno, Nevada.The festival is held each year the weekend of July 4. The four-day festival features an eclectic mix of some of the most famous national and international names in jamband, newgrass and funk. Other represented genres include bluegrass, roots rock, electronica, reggae, jazz and afrobeat.

Away from the music stages, patrons can attend films and movement playshops - yoga, pilates, etc., shop for arts and crafts, or enjoy a wide variety of gourmet food and drink. It's a family friendly and community oriented event with an expanding Family Area full of activities and certified nannies available throughout the weekend.

The first High Sierra Music Festival was in 1991, and was the genesis of High Sierra Music, of Berkeley, California. The organization has also produced festivals and concerts elsewhere in California, and in Maryland, Nevada, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Missouri.

Watch Greensky Bluegrass perform "Windshield" at High Sierra 2016 here:

Dopapod Announces Extensive 2017 Spring Tour Dates January 26, 2017 12:35

Boston-born progressive jam band Dopapod has announced a major spring tour, which spans across the East Coast, Midwest, and Southeast.  The tour kicks off with a three-night run at Brooklyn Bowl (March 23rd-25th) and wraps up at Soundstage in Baltimore on April 29th.  With a total of 26 shows on the tour, the Dopapod faithful should have plenty of opportunities to catch the band this spring.  Fans in the Southeast can also catch Dopapod at SweetWater 420 Music Festival on April 22nd at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, GA.  For further details and all of the latest updates on Dopapod, head over to the band's official website and Facebook page.  See below for a complete list of tour dates.

SweetWater 420 Fest Releases Final Lineup For 2017 January 18, 2017 20:07


SweetWater 420 Festival has added 30+ performers to it's already stacked lineup, and fans of the jam scene have every reason to rejoice.  Joining previously announced headliners Trey Anastasio, Widespread Panic, Ween, Slightly Stoopid, and Dirty Heads will be moe., Talib Kweli, Dopapod, Twiddle, Jackie Greene, Anders OsborneThe Werks, Break ScienceSunSquabi, The Hip AbductionStop Light Observations, BIG SomethingCBDBFunk YouVoodoo Visionary, and many others. Previously announced performers include Dark Star OrchestraAnders Osborne, Lettuce, The festival also unveiled a comedy lineup that includes former SNL cast member Jon Rudnitsky as well as Jake Nordwind, Joe Pettis and others.

Headliners Widespread Panic will perform two nights of the festival for a total of four sets throughout the weekend, while Anastasio will perform two sets with his solo band. Sweetwater 420 Fest will kick off April 21-23 in Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here.

Watch the official 2017 lineup announcement video here:

Original Drummer Neal "Fro" Evans Is Returning To Dopapod September 7, 2016 11:34


Boston-born jam quartet Dopapod has announced major news this morning, as the band will be reuniting with original drummer Neal "Fro" Evans, and parting ways with Evans' replacement, Scotty Zwang.  The band confirmed the news this morning via Facebook, explaining the circumstances for the initial change and giving thanks to the amazing work from Zwang over the past three years.  Evans' first shows back with the band will take place at the upcoming Resonance Music & Arts Festival and Catskill Chill Music Festival.  See below for the band's official statement via Facebook.

Friends, Family, and Fans,
As we step out of another incredible summer and look towards what is sure to be an exhilarating Fall Tour, there is news that we'd like to share. Neal "Fro" Evans is returning to Dopapod behind the drums. For those unaware or needing a refresher, Fro was our drummer for the years that the band was really shaping its sound and stepping into full stride. We came to a bit of a crossroads with Neal back in 2013 and he needed time away from the band for personal reasons while we wanted to continue playing and growing as a band. Having already been good friends with Scotty Zwang, when the time came to look for a replacement, he made for an incredible fit.
Since that point in time, the band has experienced an incredible ride of musical, personal, and career-building growth. As we count our blessings for every moment that we've experienced while surrounded by a wonderfully supportive family of fans, we've also found ourselves recounting the original chemistry that undeniably forged the path that we're grateful to be walking. That has landed us in the present moment of welcoming Neal back to the fold and him being more than happy rejoin.
Scotty will surely be staying on the map with other exciting projects and will always be a part of our family. We wish him the best and encourage everyone to support his new endeavors. In our time playing together, Scotty has truly become one of our best friends and we cherish the time he spent in the band with us. Neal's first shows back will be Resonance Music & Arts Festival & Catskill Chill Music Festival. See you all soon!
Watch this GoFro Video of Neal behind the drums from February 22, 2013 in Boston, MA:

A Weekend In Review: The Werk Out Music & Arts Festival August 12, 2016 13:08

Photo by Josh Timmermans: Noble Visions

Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Year in and year out, music fans can count on summertime presenting an overwhelming variety of options to satisfy their musical appetite.  The vast majority of national acts pack their schedules with gigs from coast to coast, and it seems as if there is a major music festival every weekend.  Last weekend was the quintessential example, as Ohio-based jam/rock band The Werks hosted it's annual "homecoming" weekend: The Werk Out Music & Arts Festival.   

The Werk Out began in 2010 at Zane Shawnee Cavernsan indian reservation with underground crystal caves in Bellefontaine, Ohio.  The festival quickly outgrew that area and relocated to Legend Valley in Thornville, Ohio, where it has now been held for the past five years.  After hearing the rave reviews over the past few years and diving deep into The Werks' catalog, I knew that this was the year for a summer journey from Alabama and Ohio.  This ended up being easily one of my best decisions in recent memory.

From the moment we arrived on Thursday afternoon, the positive vibes were flowing from every angle.  An enthusiastic, welcoming staff directed our group to a prime camping spot, and we made at least 10 new friends before the campsite was even completed.  While there are numerous elements of The Werks that I have come to love, it's the positive culture that surrounds the band really seals the deal.  

Upon entering the festival grounds for the first time, Chris Houser (lead guitar - The Werks) was playing on the main stage with his very first band, Cheezcake, who set a perfect tone for the weekend.  Shortly after, we had the pleasure of catching several tunes from Sassafraz, a super talented group from Columbus which produced The Werks' newest band member, Jake Goldberg (bass).  Our first journey to the "Big Tent" led us to Mister F, who provided some serious funk prior to Dopapod taking the main stage.

Photo by Josh Timmermans: Noble Visions

Dopapod has quickly become one of the jam/festival scenes hottest acts, and their success is justified with every performance.  Watching those guys perform, with a beautiful sunset in the distance, made for a very special moment early on.  We even got to sing "Happy Birthday" to the bands audio engineer/light designer Luke Stratton, as the band called him to the stage for a cake presentation.  Shortly after sunset, the crowd shifted just a matter of feet to the "Side Stage," where America's favorite power funk army Turkuaz ignited one of the biggest dance parties of the weekend.  It's truly amazing to witness the production and chemistry of this band in person.  They advertise "power funk," and they absolutely deliver "power funk."

Photo by Josh Timmermans: Noble Visions

The main stage was now set for the weekend's first set from The Werks, who took the stage fully participating in the evening's "track suit" theme.  The band came out firing with classics such as "For Today," "For You," and "Fire Eater," and even debuted a cover of Elton John's "The Circle of Life" from The Lion King.  A classic duel on the keys between Dan Shaw and special guest Todd Stoops occured during "G-Funk," before a massive "Hard to Find" > "Cloud Hopper" > "Hard to Find" would close out the set.  This was particularly satisfying, as my last Werks festival set was cut short when a nasty thunderstorm hit during "Cloud Hopper" at AURA earlier this year.  Another cover was debuted for the encore when the band busted out "Carry On My Wayward Son" by Kansas.  Somehow or another, Lettuce was up next for a late night set in the big tent, and night one at The Werk Out couldn't have been much hotter.

Watch The Werks perform "G-Funk" with special guest Todd Stoops here:

Video by izeoftheworldphotos

Photos by Josh Timmermans: Noble Visions

Day two at Legend Valley picked up right where Thursday left off, and the party was alive and well in The Big Tent by early afternoon.  The Big Damn Jam served as a touching tribute to Norman Dimitrouleas, the former keyboardist of The Werks who tragically passed away in January of this year.  Norman had always wanted the band to play The Beatles' Abbey Road in it's entirety, and his brother Dino, Todd Stoops, and many others performed the album in epic fashion.  Next up was an early afternoon dose of heavy funk courtesy of Kung Fu, a band that always brings the party and never disappoints.  

Anyone that has been to a music festival understands that you have to be strategic; often leaving one set earlier than you would like to in order to catch one of those "must see" bands.  This was the story of Friday afternoon, but that's definitely not a bad problem to have.  It was now time for CBDB to kick off a 60-minute set it in The Big Tent.  These guys never cease to amaze me.  This would be the band's first performance with bassist Mike Sinopole, and you would've thought he'd been with the band for years.  The highlight of the set came in the form of two debuts: a cover of the Grateful Dead's "Loose Lucy" followed by a brand new original, "She's Mobile."  I can't help but predict very big things to come for CBDB in the near future.

Photo by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

We quickly made it back to the main stage as Twiddle kicked off their set with the classic "Jamflowman."  It had been way too long since I had seen these guys, and I was quickly reminded why they have really blown up recently.  Fortunately, they were scheduled for an additional set on Saturday, which allowed me to scoot back over to The Big Tent just in time for Backup Planet, one of the most promising young bands I have seen in years.  I was introduced to this band earlier this year at AURA Music & Arts Festival, when they delivered one of my favorite sets of the weekend.  These guys managed to exceed some very high expectations.  Backup Planet is the real deal, and they might have the best cover of "Whipping Post" that I've ever heard.

Photo by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Dopapod was now back on the main stage for another amazing sunset performance, only to be followed by a wildly energetic set on the side stage from live electronic act Zoogma.  I've had the pleasure of watching Zoogma work their way up from the college bar scene to the national festival scene, and I couldn't be happier for their success.  You get everything from electronic blues/rock to hip-hop with Zoogma, and how could you not get down to that?

The stage was now set for one of the weekend's biggest moments: two full sets of STS9.  There was a significant number of the Tribe faithful who came to The Werk Out specifically for this moment, and they were rewarded with a stellar festival performance.  The first set had two extremely unfortunate moments; the first of which involved a fan hopping on stage, climbing on drummer Zach Velmer's kit, and taking a trust fall onto the drummer mid-song.  Velmer handled the situation like the true professional that he is, and the band picked up right where they left off.  The set was then cut short due to technical/power issues, but the band returned for it's second set and gave Legend Valley an absolute gem.  The "Hubble" > "Orbital" > "Hubble" segue was as tight as anything I've heard from this band.  "World Go Round" made for an epic dance party to close out the set, and the "Breathe In" encore was simply perfect.  I couldn't have more respect for this band's response to a few unfortunate issues that were out of their control.

Photo by Josh Timmermans: Noble Visions

It was now time for The Werks to continue the party in the big tent, which some might have seen as a difficult task after two powerful sets of STS9.  The boys kicked things off with a bang as they worked through the powerful instrumental "Lights Out," followed by the first "Transformational" since November of 2015.  They even finished the "Cloudhopper" from Thursday night.  Dino Dimitrouleas returned to the stage for an extended jam on "Rollin," and two of my personal favorites, "Find Your Way" and "You're Not Alone," closed out the set in heavy fashion.  

You would think this had to be the end of the evening, but the most unique moment of the night was yet to come.  The stage was now set for Twerkapod, a one-time 90's tribute set featuring a rotating cast of members from The Werks, Dopapod, and Twiddle.  What proceeded after 2:30 AM was nothing short of beautiful, epic, and hilarious.  For a more detailed recap and video footage of the Twerkapod set, click here.

Watch Twerkapod perform Blues Traveler's "Run Around" here:

Video by Charles Izenstark: izeoftheworldphotos

As we entered the final day at Legend Valley, the positive energy was contagious, and we were faced with yet another killer lineup.  Broccoli Samurai kicked things off early on the main stage, and these guys blew my mind.  The Cleveland-based four-piece held down a ridiculously melodic groove from start to finish, and they have some of the best song titles I've ever heard of.  I'm really looking forward to following this band moving forward.  

Members of The Werks, Twiddle, and Greensky Bluegrass joined forces for the Matt Butler's Everyone Orchestra, which opened things up for some truly amazing improv jamming.  I had heard a lot about this project over the years, but this was my first time witnessing it in person.  The constantly rotating cast always brings something new to each stage, and watching this collection of musicians in this capacity was a definite highlight.  BIG Something proceeded to absolutely crush the side stage, while The Werks headed over to the VIP tent for a three-song acoustic set which included Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer," "Fall," and "Better Than Before."  This was my first time seeing these guys in an acoustic setting, and it only further affirmed how diverse this band can be.

Photo by Josh Timmermans: Noble Visions

Greensky Bluegrass was next up on the main stage for one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend.  We took advantage of the grass hill back toward the vendors to enjoy the set full of all of the Greensky classics.  It had been quite some time since I'd had the pleasure of seeing these guys live, and damn...they were amazing.  They even brought out Mihali Savoulidis from Twiddle for "Last Winter in Copper County."  As soon as Greensky finished, Twiddle would take the side stage by storm for their second set of the weekend, which featured many of my favorites, such as "Be There," "Lost in the Cold," Syncopated Healing," and "Frankenfoote."  

Watch video footage of Greensky Bluegrass w/ Mihali Savoulidis of Twiddle here:

Video by Charles Izenstark: izeoftheworldphotos

The main stage was now set for what you could easily call the weekend's main event.  The Werks were slated for two sets, and they took the stage in full tuxedos.  "Alive" kicked off the set and bust outs of "Give or Take" and "Cruel Stone Blues" would follow.  The always powerful "OG" ultimately led into a cover of Edgar Winter Group's "Frankenstein" which closed out the first set in epic fashion.  "Drop" kicked off the second set, which has to be one of the most clever songs in recent history.  An extended "Werk Out Jam" moved into an "Immigrant Song Jam," and things truly took off from there.  

The sequence of "Finding Destiny" > "Galactic Passport" > "Finding Destiny" > "Galactic Passport" > "Finding Destiny" was on another level.  A raging rendition of "Onslaught" provided a classic Werks rager to close the second set.  The decision to encore with "Carry Me Back Home" came as no surprise, as the emotional tune had not been played since prior to the passing of Norman Dimitrouleas.  Dino returned to the stage for this one, which was an emotional, touching tribute to say the least.  Midway through the song, Rob Chafin addressed the audience and invited the entire Werk Out crew to the stage for the song's closing chorus. 

Watch the "Finding Destiny" > "Galactic Passport" sequence here:

Watch The Werks' perform "Carry Me Back Home" here:

Videos by Charles Izenstark: izeoftheworldphotos

As many readers will understand, you're just never going to make it to every set that you plan for over the course of a weekend festival.  After three full days and two very late nights, I didn't have it in me to make it back over to The Big Tent for the two remaining sets from The Motet and Earphunk (Daft Phunk).  This was defintely my biggest regret of the weekend, but as the old saying goes, "You can't make 'em all."  There was a noticeable buzz amongst the campground surrounding both late night sets, and it sounds like Earphunk went above and beyond, with a set that went far beyond the time they were obligated to play until.  This came as no surprise, as that's the type of performance that those guys are known to give.  

As I wrap up what is easily one of the longest articles in the history of this website, I can't help but wonder if there is anyone who has actually continued reading to this point.  For anyone who has, thank you for reading through my memories of this amazing weekend.  There is no brief or concise way to justifiably recount this experience.  When thousands of fans come from every corner of the country to gather in the spirit of music and art, it is truly a beautiful thing.  The Werk Out was circled on my calendar for several months, and the anticipation which surrounded it was very real.  My expectations couldn't have been much higher, and they were exceeded each and every night.  I can't say enough about the job that Rob Chafin and the entire Werks crew has done in building and growing this festival into what it has become.  The Werk Out Music & Arts Festival was an experience that I will never forget, and I can't wait to return in 2017.

Photo by Josh Timmermans: Noble Visions

Photo by Josh Timmermans: Noble Visions

Photo by Josh Timmermans: Noble Visions

Photo by Josh Timmermans: Noble Visions

Photo by Josh Timmermans: Noble Visions

Photo by Josh Timmermans: Noble Visions

Photo by Josh Timmermans: Noble Visions

Watch Video of Twerkapod's 90's Tribute Set from The Werk Out Music Festival August 9, 2016 18:31

Over the weekend, Ohio-based jam band The Werks hosted its 7th annual Werk Out Music & Arts Festival at Legend Valley in Thornville, Ohio.  With headlining sets from STS9, Lettuce, Greensky Bluegrass, and The Werks, as well as amazing performances from Dopapod, Twiddle, The Motet, Earphunk (performing as 'Daft Phunk'), Turkuaz, CBDB, Backup Planet, and so many more, this year's Werk Out was wildly successful. 

The Werk Out has often been known for its unique tribute sets, such as The Werks, Dopapod, and Papadosio performing Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" in its entirety in 2014.  This year's tribute came in the form of Twerkapod, which featured The Werks, Twiddle, and Dopapod performing many of the greatest hits from the 90's from 2:30AM - 4:00AM.  Fortunately, select video footage has surfaced on YouTube via Izeoftheworldphotos and Amanda Siedner, which can be seen below.

Green Day - "Basket Case" (Rob Chafin of The Werks on vocals)
Blink 182 - "All The Small Things" (Chuck Jones of Dopapod on vocals)
Sublime - "Date Rape" (Mihali Savoulidis of Twiddle on vocals)
Nirvana - "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (Mihali Savoulidis of Twiddle on vocals)
Harvey Danger - "Flagpole Sitta" (Dan Shaw of The Werks on vocals)
Coolio - "Gangster's Paradise" (Dino & Rob of The Werks on vocals)
Rage Against The Machine - "Killing In The Name"  (Dino of The Werks on vocals)
Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Give It Away" (Mihali Savoulidis of Twiddle on vocals)
Britney Spears - "Hit Me Baby One More Time (Chuck Jones of Dopapod on vocals)
Third Eye Blind - "Semi-Charmed Life" (Rob Chafin of The Werks on vocals)
Hanson - "Mmm Bop" (Scotty Zwang of Dopapod on vocals)
Spin Doctors - "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" (Rob Chafin of The Werks on vocals)
Blues Traveler - "Run Around" (Mihali Savoulidis of Twiddle on vocals)
Radiohead - "Creep" (Eli Winderman of Dopapod on vocals)
Foo Fighters - "I'll Stick Around" (Scotty Zwang of Dopapod on vocals)
TLC - "Waterfalls" (Mihali Savouldis of Twiddle & Scotty Zwang of Dopapod on vocals
Encore: The Verve - "Bittersweet Symphony" (Chris Houser of The Werks on vocals)

Watch footage of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (Nirvana) here:

Watch footage of "Flagpole Sitta" (Harvey Danger) here:

 Watch footage of Gangster's Paradise (Coolio) here:

Watch footage of "Killing In The Name" (RATM) here:


Watch footage of "Hit Me Baby One More Time" (Britney Spears) here:

Watch footage of "Run Around" (Blues Traveler) here:

Watch footage of "Creep" (Radiohead) here:

Watch footage of "Waterfalls" (TLC) here:

Dopapod & Pigeons Playing Ping Pong Will Team Up For Extensive Fall Tour August 3, 2016 11:48

Live For Live Music has announced a massive fall schedule with Dopapod and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. The co-headline tour will feature full sets from both bands, covering most of the eastern half of the country and including stops at Irving Plaza in New York City, The Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville, VA, The Orange Peel in Asheville, NC, Terminal West in Atlanta, Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh, NC, The Pour House in Charleston, SC, and more.
 The Boston born, now generally Northeast based, but ever on-the-go Dopapod has come a long way from their college basement, DIY party roots. While maintaining to be as grassroots as their humble beginnings, the group has earned praise from taste making critics like Huffington Post, Jambase, and Relix, all the while tending to their ever expanding community of devoted listeners. The past 4 years have individually held the weight of about 150 shows, and included numerous festival appearances like BonnarooWakarusa, Summer Camp, Electric Forest, Camp Bisco, Peach Fest, & Gathering Of the Vibes
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong brings end-of-the-world enthusiasm to their high-energy psychedelic funk. Their infectious electro-funk grooves, undeniable live energy and contagious smiles have their rabid fanbase "the Flock" growing exponentially. Based out of Baltimore, MD, this animated quartet has been scorching up the country with their explosive performances and danceable peaks... and they're loving every minute of it!
Check out the full schedule below. Tickets and show information can be found at both Dopapod and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong's band websites.

Throwback: The Werks, Papadosio, & Dopapod Perform 'Dark Side Of The Moon' May 26, 2016 14:29

Those who follow the jam/festival scene can vouch for the fact that there is currently an endless amount of talent to choose fromWith new, exciting acts knocking on the door each year, The Werks, Papadosio, and Dopapod have established themselves as mainstays in the circuit. Back in 2009, The Werks founded The Werk Out Music & Arts Festival and have since solidified the annual event as one of the premier jam rock festivals in the country. Both Papadosio and Dopapod have been a part of the festival on multiple occasions.

Today, we are looking back on a major highlight from The Werk Out 2014, which featured members of The Werks, Papadosio, and Dopapod  performing the iconic Pink Floyd album, Dark Side of the Moon, in it's entirety. Members of each band rotated on and off stage throughout the set, which even included a cameo from Zach Deputy during "Great Gig in the Sky." If you haven't had the privilege of watching this epic performance, we recommend setting aside 45 minutes, getting extra relaxed, and enjoying the video linked below.

Watch The Werks, Papadosio, and Dopapod perform 'Dark Side of the Moon' at The Werk Out 2014 here:

Founded in Columbus, Ohio in 2005, The Werks is best known for its quick rise into the jam band music scene and appearances at major festivals and events across the US and abroad.  In early June 2011, the band rose to prominence when it hit the number 2 top searched artists on the leading online jam magazine,, behind the band Phish and again in early 2012 when they hit number 1.

Originally from the creative collegiate hotbed of Athens, Ohio, Papadosio is now centered in Asheville, North Carolina.  Hitting virtually all major and secondary U.S. music locales and select festivals across North America, Papadosio tours on a massive scale but maintains a close intimacy with their fans.  

The Boston born, now generally Northeast based, but ever on-the-go Dopapod has come a long way from their college basement, DIY party roots.  The past 4 years have individually held the weight of about 150 shows, and included numerous festival appearances like AURA Music & Arts Festival, Wakarusa, Summer Camp, Electric Forest, Camp Bisco, Peach Fest, & Gathering Of the Vibes, and Bonnaroo 2015.

Click Here: Purchase Tickets to The Werk Out 2016

Interview: Eli Winderman of Dopapod October 9, 2015 11:02

Photo by Ken Jones
Dopapod has come a long way from their college basement, DIY party roots. While maintaining to be as grassroots as their humble beginnings, the group has earned praise from Rolling Stone, Huffington Post, The Boston Herald and Relix, all the while tending to their ever expanding community of devoted listeners.  We recently caught up with Eli Winderman (keyboards) to gain some additional insight, as well as his thoughts on this weekend's Creatures of the Night Music & Art Festival in Adams, TN.
Dopapod is...
ROB COMPA - Guitar
LUKE STRATTON - Sound & Lights
Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
Dopapod was born Boston, while attending Berklee College of Music.  What led to the formation of the band?  When did you guys start to realize this would become much more than a college band?
Eli:  The band started basically as a vehicle to play house parties and other random gigs we could get together.  We used to play basement house parties and renegade festival sets all the time.  As well as all over New England.  We did that for about a year or two until one day I got a call from our first booking agent.  Once that happened, we began touring pretty heavily and haven’t really slowed down too much until now.  We’ve had breaks here and there, but for the most part we’ve been touring pretty heavily for 4 or 5 years now.
The sound of Dopapod is truly unique, from your unique sound/creativity on the Moog, to Rob's heavy but funky style of guitar playing.  Who were some of your biggest influences that helped shape your style of play?
Eli:  I suppose I should just speak for myself here, but my original keyboard influences were John Medeski, Herbie Hancock, Rick Wakeman (Yes), Neal Evans (Soulive), Bill Evans, and Brad Mehldau.  Basically, when I was 15 I was introduced to a lot of the funk stuff from the 70’s, as well as the new age jam/funk stuff.  It was the first time I realized I could really be a keyboard player.  
Photo by Amanda Sandwicch - CSMPromo
We're approaching one year since the release of your fourth studio album, Never Odd of Even.  Have you guys had a different approach towards each studio release?    How do you ultimately decide on the tracks and their placement within each album?
Eli:  It feels like more than a year to be honest.  Each album has a bit of its own approach because our tastes are constantly changing and our abilities are becoming more mature.  Every time you make a record you learn a lot about the process as well as yourself.  We usually write constantly, and try to get songs going in the live rotation so they can get some road time.  We’ve found that songs develop over time and eventually we have enough songs for a new record so we can begin the process.  This time around, we have a lot of music stored up that we haven’t played live.  We’re starting off next year with a long writing/rehearsal time and aiming to come back in 2016 with a lot of new music.
I'm always interested to hear how the songwriting process works within the bands I follow.  How is the songwriting balanced within the band?  Can you share an example from a song in the current catalog?
Eli:  A lot of our music starts with a demo that I make.  I share it with the guys and if they like it then we start learning as the band.  The parts always come to life once we learn them, and everyone throws in their individual ideas for the song.  Then we play it live and figure out what parts are good and what parts need to be changed.  
Dopapod has grown drastically in recent years.  The venues are bigger.  The festival spots are prime.  The van even turned into a bus.  Has the total amount of dates continued to increase?  How does the band balance out the rigorous tour schedule?
Eli:  The dates have actually gone down a little bit, so we’re able to attempt to balance our lives a bit more than in the past.  We all have our routines to balance out the tour schedule, but it’s definitely not easy.  Lack of sleep is a hell of a drug.
You guys are scheduled to headline Creatures of the Night in Adams, TN on Sunday night.  Every band seems to have their own unique way of planning a set.  How do you guys go about the process?
Eli:  Rob writes most of our set lists, but we usually end up ditching it and calling out tunes live.  Either that, or segues just naturally happen.  That’s always my favorite and one of the coolest parts about this scene of music.  There are no rules and it’s pretty freeing to go into a concert with that mentality.
Creatures of the Night is one of the many new music festivals to surface in 2015.  The lineup is stacked with many of the jam scenes biggest acts.  While many new festivals surface each year, we seem to lose several as well.  How do you feel that Creatures can solidify itself as a mainstay in the festival circuit?
Eli:  That’s probably a question that a lot of festival promoters would love to know the answer to.  I think what makes festivals have longevity is the community.  If the festival has a strong and supportive community then you can’t even get rid of that festival.  If you look at festivals like Gathering of the Vibes, High Sierra, and Burning man (kind of a festival?), these are all events that have been going on for 2 almost 3 decades.  It’s more than just a music and art festival.  It’s tradition for thousands of people.  
Catch Dopapod on Sunday night at 8:15 PM on the Main Stage at Creatures of the Night Music & Arts Festival in Adams, TN.
Dopapod Tour Dates:
Oct 09 - Kalamazoo, MI - Bell's Eccentric Cafe
Oct 10 - Indianapolis, IN - The Vogue Theatre*
Oct 11 - Adams, TN - Creatures Of the Night Festival
Oct 13 - Fayetteville, AR - George's Majestic Lounge
Oct 15 - Frisco, CO - Barkley Ballroom
Oct 16 - Aspen, CO - Belly Up
Oct 17 - Denver, CO - Ogden Theatre*#
Oct 18 - Fort Collins, CO - Hodi's Half Note
Oct 21 - Dallas, TX - Trees
Oct 22 - Rockdale, TX - Art Outside
Oct 23 - Houston, TX - Warehouse Live
Oct 24 - New Orleans, LA - Tipitina's
Oct 27 - Jackson, MS - Duling Hall
Oct 28 - Huntsville, AL - VBC Playhouse
Oct 29 - Birmingham, AL - Zydeco
Oct 30 - Live Oak, FL - Hulaween
Nov 12 - Providence, RI - The Spot Underground
Nov 13 - Burlington, VT - Higher Ground
Nov 14 - Woodstock, NY - Bearsville Theater
Nov 18 - Buffalo, NY - Tralf Music Hall
Nov 20 - New York, NY - Irving Plaza
Nov 21 - Philadelphia, PA - Theatre of Living Arts
Dec 02 - Wilmington, NC - Ziggy's
Dec 03 - Athens, GA - Georgia Theatre
Dec 04 - Charleston, SC - The Pourhouse
Dec 05 - Atlanta, GA - Terminal West
Dec 08 - Chattanooga, TN - Revelry Room
Dec 09 - Nashville, TN - Exit In
Dec 10 - Asheville, NC - New Mountain
Dec 11 - Raleigh, NC - Lincoln Theatre
Dec 12 - Vienna, VA - Jammin' Java
Dec 13 - Vienna, VA - Jammin' Java*
Dec 31 - Worcester, MA - The Palladium w/ Turkuaz + Kung Fu (The Ball Drop)
* - No Nth Power
# - w/ Moon Hooch

Looking Back on Catskill Chill Music Festival: Night 1 September 22, 2015 09:23

 Photo by Andrew Scott Blackstein - Blackstein Photography

One of the year's most anticipated music festivals, Catskill Chill, occurred this past weekend for one last go-round at Camp Minglewood in Hancock, NY.  Due to circumstances out of their control. the sixth-annual festival served as "A Farewell to Minglewood," as they will be forced to find a new home in 2016.  The festival will continue next year, and several amazing prospective locations have already been placed in the mix.  The year's lineup featured the likes of moe., Lotus, Zappa Plays Zappa, Lettuce, Electron, The Motet, Dopapod, Kung Fu, Twiddle, Turkuaz, The Werks, Particle, George Porter Jr. & Runnin' Pardners, and many many more.  Below you will find a collection of our favorite moments from the weekend, with photos and setlists courtesy of our friends at Brotherly Love Productions.  

 Photos by Andrew Scott Blackstein - Blackstein Photography

Erick "Jesus" Coomes of Lettuce


Eric Krasno of Lettuce

Jesus Coomes, Adam Deitch and Adam "Schmeeans" Smirnoff of Lettuce

Mike Rempel of Lotus

George Porter Jr. & Brint Anderson of the Runnin' Pardners


Borahm Lee and Adam Deitch of Break Science 

Mihali and Friends - "Dead Set"

Mihali Savoulidis of Twiddle and Tim Palmieri of Kung Fu 


Mihali and Friends - "Dead Set"

Josh Dobbs of Cats Under the Stars (Keys), Ryan Clausen of Dead Set (Drums), Brook Jordan of Twiddle (Drums), Zdenek Parker Gubb of Twiddle (Bass), Mihali Savoulidis of Twiddle (guitar) and Tim Palmieri of Kung Fu (guitar)

"Dopakuaz" Plays Studio 54

Featuring Members of Dopapod and Turkuaz

Josh Schwartz (Bari sax), Josh Sanderson (Tenor sax), Chris Brouwers (trumpet) of Turkuaz

 Dave Brandwein of Turkuaz


 Setlist: Lettuce
Get Greasy, Bowler, The Force, Harmonics(major>minor), Slippin into Darkness, Phyllis, Lettsanity, Dread Zeppelin, Trillogy, Madison Square, By Any Shmeeans Necessary, New Reel, Squadlive, Makin My Way (Nigel Hall), Sounds Like A Party To Me (Nigel Hall), Do It Like You Do (Nigel Hall)
Setlist: Lotus
Suitcases, Tarot, L'immueble > Neon Tubes, Sid > Wooly Mammoth, Lead Pipe >  Arupa, Kesey Seed, Livingston Storm > Umbilical Moonrise, What Did I Do Wrong
Setlist: Dopakuaz Plays Studio 54
That's The Way, A Fifth of Beethoven, Bad Girls > Le Freak,  Bell, You Should Be Dancing, Get Down, Funky Town > Disco Inferno, I Feel Love, Give It To Me Baby, Heart of Glass > Good Times


Stay tuned for recaps of Night 2 and Night 3 on Wednesday and Thursday!