bosun records

no one's pronouncing "boatswain"



for the last eight years david lemieux and the kind people over at dead dot net have released a soundboard available for download each day in november.

the annual project is called “30 days of dead” and i believe is a continuation of the old weekly taper’s section (from what i’ve heard, they weren’t aware people were downloading their streams, so they changed to this format, although the taper’s section still exists, just in an un-down-load-able capacity).

the songs range from all thirty years of the dead’s history and can be as short as a two and a half minute “operator” or as long as a thirty-three minute “alligator > caution.”

it’s free, previously unreleased grateful goddamn dead in soundboard form, so i’ll gladly lap up whatever they share.

at the end of the month i’ll upload 2018’s selections as one file. until then here is every previous collection, tracked with that year’s artwork and each song’s date.













mississippi john hurt has one of the most soothing voices i’ve ever heard.

this album “the best of mississippi john hurt” is actually a live solo show that he recorded at oberlin college in 1965, one year before his death.

most of these songs are folk, blues and gospel covers, but when john hurt plays them it hardly matters who wrote the words- he encompasses the spirit of every single one of these songs and you can’t help but feel like you’re listening to your grandfather sing you to sleep.

i can’t remember how i came across this album but it’s been a safety net album of mine for over a decade. a safety net album isn’t necessarily a desert island album (although this one is for me as well).

it’s something you can listen to at any time no matter what mood you’re in and it will bring you whatever you need- peace, happiness, clarity… anything. it’s also something you can listen to if you’ve taken too much of whatever you took and need to come back down to earth. uncle john will corral your nerves.

auditory landing gear.



twenty years ago today widespread panic started one of the coolest residencies i’ve ever heard of at the now-closed chesterfield cafe in paris.

they played 10 free shows at this little americanized music club that sat maybe 300 people, all in the name of spending some of their own hard earned money to take what was most likely a working vacation for them and their families (kind of like phish at the maya but without the exorbitant custie fees).

prior to these shows they played six in australia and new zealand and right after a few more in western europe before coming back and doing panic in the streets. what a time to be alive.

the setlists are all over the place in the best way possible and while the recordings are hit and miss they’re definitely worth hearing if you want to cozy up and feel like you were there.

i love widespread panic but i’m not nearly as knowledgable on their history as many, many other people, but i did find a few links that will satiate the information-starved and hopefully show you a few things you didn’t know before.

harvey couch and jeff kollath from the bluest tape podcast have an awesome interview with jonathan spencer who was at nine of the ten shows after being one of the first to find out about the overseas trip and became the main guy stateside who organized the group of americans who travelled to france for the shows.

i don’t use the word “epic” very often but his story is the stuff of hambland legend and the fact that it happened twenty years ago when the internet was in its infancy makes it all the more amazing.

in addition to being huge in the athens music scene, jonathan has been an actor for the last fifteen years and has an imdb page worth checking out. there’s really some great stories and information in here so definitely give these a listen.

in addition to that, paris phil demetrion (RIP) has a fascinating read over at what will feel like a time travel to 1996 at an angelfire page, but be warned it’s a little glitchy and has music that blares as soon as you pull it up. easy to navigate though and worth your time.

90’s throwback angelfire summary

podcasts number one and number two

listen: panicstream

setlists: everydaycompanion


after their first time playing a real band’s schedule this past fall, spafford begins their whimsical phrase tour 2018 tonight in minneapolis.

just eleven days after ringing in the new year with three sold out shows at the crescent ballroom in their hometown of phoenix, they’ve got nearly thirty shows scheduled over the next two months.

as someone who’s been following them for a long time, it feels really good to see those words written out. not even two years ago, thirty shows would’ve made up their entire twelve month calendar. now they’re banging that out before spring even starts.

and with what seems like weekly surprise announcements being made (opening for the disco biscuits at red rocks, summer camp, bonnaroo), there is a lot to be excited about -besides the somehow-ever-improving music itself- in spafford land.

however, the band’s had enough smoke blown up their ass over the past year that they can go one blog without someone fawning over them. there will be plenty of adoring crowds full of smiles and cummy britches to satiate their egos in the upcoming months.

this is a post for the nerds.


coffee. wine. film. pizza. some of the world’s finest snobbery has emerged from fanatics of these things, and insufferable jamband fans will be at the top of any snob list you can come up with.

we also have some of the best fans, but if you spend enough time on drug band message boards you might be inclined to think that entire audiences at these band’s shows are made up of white guys trying to prove to each other that they’re the bigger fan and that all the time and money they’ve put into whatever band we may or may not be talking about is worth it even though the guitarist doesn’t practice, the bassist only cares about one upping lennky kravitz, the drummer is a political hack who clearly doesn’t understand the concept of online trolling and should have his facebook password changed for everyone’s sake and where’s the keyboard player oh yeah in his range rover driving his kids to school in between tennis matches against the local geriatric orthodontist.

whatever. the point is, the fans of some of these bands can be very unwelcoming to someone just getting into them, and a lot of times one bad interaction can turn someone off forever. that sucks for them and it sucks for the fan community because who knows what kind of contribution that person could have made if they only felt comfortable enough to do so?

with this present tour will come even more fans than spafford’s taken on recently. that’s fantastic. that’s what the band wants and it’s what we should all want.

last april spafford barely sold out last exit live, a great little venue here in phoenix that they’ve played many times over the years that probably holds about 300 people. and this was right after their big break opening for umphrey’s mcgee on their tours between january and march.

so for them to sell out the crescent (with an approximate capacity of 550) just eight months later for three straight nights was incredible, and i’m thrilled to say that i didn’t recognize almost 90% of the crowd, meaning that there were a ton of people who traveled from all over the country for these shows.

that kind of dedication only comes when a band has earned your love and, in reality, money. it’s not cheap to come to phoenix in december. these are our five months of paradise and every person from every little hell hole on god’s green earth wants to come to a place like this during the winter.

so the fact that we had a national representation of spaffnerds in the band’s adopted home town for what has always historically been a big occasion in the jam scene was exhilarating, for both local fans and for the band as well.

the interactions between fans were the exact opposite of the typical snobby jamband buffoonery too.

i heard so many times over the three nights questions like “what song is this” during a song like “leave the light on” that might seem pretty obvious to your average spaffnerd, or “which one is jordan?” and even “did they name themselves after a janitor at one of their middle schools?”

questions where if the equivalent were asked at another band’s show, the person on the receiving end might scoff and be like “uhh yeah. bro. it’s fuckin’ leave the light on”  as they shook their head at the noobiness of this knobby kneed noob’s query.

or “pffft you don’t know who jay rod is? there’s only four dudes on stage- figure it out.”

or even “not even close, junior. they named the band after one of their high school janitors. jeeeeezus chriiiiiiist you sound like a twat. keep it down i don’t want sashi to hear us.”

except at these shows i repeatedly heard answers like “it’s called ‘leave the light on’ let’s see where they take it!”… “jordan’s the bass player, he’s right next to red, on keys. dude’s an animal,”… and “nah i’m pretty sure it was the name of the patio furnishing company they all worked at before committing to the band full time.”

it was beautiful to see and hear. there were no headier than thou attitudes. no dick measuring contests over how many shows people had seen. it was one of the most genuinely positive music experiences i’ve ever had, and the natural excitement and welcoming vibe that everyone shared absolutely contributed to the quality of the music.

there’s no place i feel more at home than in the crowd at a spafford show. i know a lot of you feel the same, and it should be like that for everyone whether it’s their first or hundredth show.

spafford is an inclusive band and their music reflects that, and i hope that all the good stuff that spaffnerds shared with each other over the past year will continue to grow with the band and their expanding fanbase.

ten years from now i hope we’re known as the most welcoming fanbase in music, not just hamblandia.

ok cool enough of this new age feelgoodery we’ve got a tour to enjoy.

cue it up:


sweet mother, pure guava came out 25 years ago today. that was november 10th, 1992 for anyone struggling.

the pod is the brownest album in ween’s catalogue, but this one’s the best.

i am happy to admit that that is not an original thought. it took a lot of convincing, and hundreds of listens (headphones always recommended, especially for this album) before i understood what i had been missing.

ten years ago i never would have thought i’d be saying that. many hard core ween fans told me for years that it their best studio album, but i resisted. quebec is probably still my favorite, but i thought i could objectively say it was also their best.

i’m not trying to give a ween history lesson or put this album in perspective twenty five years later. but there are some aspects to this album that don’t necessarily reveal themselves to you after one or even fifty listens.

this was the one that took the longest for me to appreciate. the pod‘s definitive brownness was clear after the first listen, but pure guava is a more polished continuation of those songs, and i didn’t understand that for a long time.

it was their first album recorded as part of a major label (elektra) after working with shimmy disc on their three previous albums. the drum machine and four track are still present, but there’s a clearer overall sound.

i started with chocolate and cheese so this shouldn’t have made any difference to someone who was as late to ween as i was. but after dissecting godweensatan and the pod for months so i could truly understand what “brown” meant, revisiting pure guava was kind of jarring. it seemed like it was pod lite, and not in a good way.

to me, the pod was the equivalent of ’68 grateful dead shows- gnarly. primal. aggressive. and not always pleasant to listen to. but absolutely essential and both things i latched onto pretty quickly with a genuine curiosity and eventual love for.

i think i went two straight years without listening to pure guava even after i was fully immersed in the boognish. what a waste.

but maybe my past ignorance can help you appreciate this album if you don’t already.

“little birdy” and “tender situation” start the album right where the pod left off lyrically (“tender situation” and “i play it off legit” are easily the two most quoted songs in my experience whenever the album comes up in conversation), leading into the album’s masterpiece and fan favorite “the stallion pt. 3.”

this is, i think, the only available video of the band recording their live album all request live, which until last week was the only time they’d ever played the entire “stallion” suite (i – v) in the same “show,” although this performance was only streamed online with no actual audience in the room with them.

listen to this version from switzerland on thanksgiving day 1997. the whole show is worth getting, but “the stallion pt. 3” is exceptional. and it’s a sbd recording taboot.

and if you happen to have one of these absolutely perfect shirts, allow me to take it off your hands for the price of… on the house.


one thought that doesn’t have a place in any other paragraph:

i’ve always imagined the board game characters from the cover of quebec are the ones singing “the goin’ gets tough from the getgo” with those snooty voices dean and gene use.

i remember reading and hearing from a number of people that the run of “pumpin’ 4 the man,” “sarah” and “springtheme” was the best little chunk of the album. that was what caught my attention back when i first tried to really understand what everyone loved about the album.

i’d never thought of them as a mini trilogy within the album, and why would i? there are no connecting themes in the lyrics and they’re all at different tempos with vastly different melodies.

but i relistened to those three songs a bunch of times before then putting the album on repeat and waiting til it clicked. it did.

like a lot of things ween, i can’t really explain what did it for me. but whatever happened opened my entire viewpoint of the album. it just seemed perfectly ween.

it wasn’t the brownest (but it has “mourning glory”), it didn’t make me laugh the most (but it has “touch my tooter”?!?), and it’s still not my favorite (but “tender situation” and “i play it off legit” are instant classics).

but it is the single most ween album they’ve created.

listen to cowboy gener and this great little version of “pumpin 4 the man.”


any other band would close this album with the perfect “don’t get 2 close (2 my fantasy),” but this is ween, so even though this is the highest of all high notes to go out high on, they close the album with none other than…

“poopship destroyer.”

poopship is ween’s dark star: an early song that took on a life of its own and gave the band their own unique thing where they could say “this is ours. we made it. no one else could have done it and you are lucky we’re sharing it with you.”

and as much as ween has pushed back against traditional “jamming” stereotypes, they can take this one as far out as they want on any given night, and we will lap it up like the custy brown sheep that we are because it can make your fucking night like nothing else.

check out this version that clocks in at 28 minutes, the latter half of which the ween setlist refers to as “gener’s lament.”

here are deaner’s thoughts on the show, from his old tour diaries (which if you haven’t read, i cannot possibly recommend them enough. that should be it’s own separate blog):

aaron got too drunk to…..walk…but somehow managed to channel it all into something gloriously horrible for our “concert”. i’d apologize for the 50 minute “poopship destroyer” but somehow i think you deserve it for living in ft. lauderdale.

that quote sums up the song, the album, the band, their fans, and boognish all at once.

so. if you’re still not convinced, put the headphones back on, lick your palm, and play it again.

rise, boognish, rise.



paul pierce was 23 years old during his third season in the nba, and in a game against the lakers in los angeles that march, he scored 42 points and nearly won the game by himself before ultimately losing to kobe and shaq while they were in the middle of their four straight trips to the nba finals.

pierce made such an impression that day that in the laker’s locker room after the game, shaq approached a celtics beat writer and said this:

Take this down: My name is Shaquille O’Neal, and Paul Pierce is the motherfucking truth. Quote me on that, and don’t take nothing out. I knew he could play, but I didn’t know he could play like this. Paul Pierce is the truth.

for the rest of his career, pierce was known by teammates, coaches, fans, opponents and broadcasters as the truth. he won his own nba championship and will be a first ballot hall of famer, get his number 34 retired by the celtics, and most likely go down as a top 5 celtic of all time.

this past saturday night, i saw the bluegrass flat picker billy strings play with his band here in phoenix. i’d only been listening to him for a few months and it was my first time seeing him live.

one show was all i needed, because if you just switch the names, shaq’s quote perfectly sums up my feelings about mr. strings:

since this is my blog, i’ll take this down for you: my name is bosun records, and billy strings is the motherfucking truth. quote me on that, and don’t take nothing out. i knew he could play, but i didn’t know he could play like this. billy strings is the truth.

that’s all there is to it. billy strings is the motherfucking truth.

people more musically knowledgable than myself can tell you about his technical prowess, songwriting ability and potential to be the next torch bearer in bluegrass.

i can only tell you what i experienced.

i saw a baby-faced guy who’s probably no bigger than an average high school sophomore captivate an audience with a stage presence reminiscent of someone like lowell george.

he played the absolute shit out of his guitar. that thing’s going to look like willie nelson’s “trigger” in only a few years. i’ve never seen anyone treat an acoustic instrument that way. he was banging his head, jumping up and down at times, and commanding the room in a way i rarely see in live music anymore.

all this in a band without a drummer, taboot.

i told everyone i knew to come to this show because i thought there is absolutely no way that the next time he comes through phoenix that we’d have the chance to see him in such an intimate setting.

billy strings has the talent, charisma and crossover appeal that can attract audiences of all different genres, and with that, the potential to be the kind of musician that people revere for reasons beyond his ability.

if you like and are able to be moved from a musical experience, this is the guy you need to see. he has it, that undefinable quality i assume every musician wants to embody.

in a 1964 supreme court case, justice potter stewart wrote that he couldn’t explain what hard core pornography was, but that he knew it when he saw it. well i have no idea how to explain what “it” is, but i damn sure know it when i see it, and billy strings has it in spades.

you can see it from your place in the crowd. you can see it in him and the way he carries himself onstage. you can see it in the way he interacts with his bandmates and how they react to him in the middle of a jam. but most importantly you can feel it in his music.

the dude cares about his music and playing his heart out to make sure everyone has as much fun as he seems to be having. he plays a lot of great covers both bluegrass and otherwise, but his original songs are excellent and come from a unique place while also giving a nod to his influences without directly copying them.

and he has soul. something you cannot fake as a musician. if you just heard his music without seeing what he looked like, you might think he was black, or a much older, beaten down white guy who’d lived through a ton of real shit in his life.

but he’s a young white dude with a bieber haircut. no offense bill.

from what i read he grew up in a trailer park in michigan and his father had a huge influence on his singing and picking. i don’t care where it comes from, though, because he feels everything he sings and it comes across genuinely.

listen to this version of johnny winter’s “ain’t nothing to me,” played solo during a facebook live session this past april (but really watch the whole thing):

johnny’s version is just fine, but billy adds more heart to this song than i ever thought it contained, wringing every possible emotion out of it he can. he made me hear it in a way i never had before, something only the most gifted musicians can do.

that growl in the chorus, the guitar playing that’s so smooth it sounds like there’s two of them, the range he has in voice that can make the same lyric sound mournful but at the same time have a bit of fuck-off snarl to it… hoo doggy that’s the good stuff.

so hitch your wagon to this dude’s ride or ride to this guy’s wagon, he’s got it and has plenty to share.

the truth is out there.

i want to believe.

billy lasers, man. lasers.



ween released their album the mollusk twenty years ago today. as was common industry practice back then, june 24th, 1997 was a tuesday. 1997 was the year before mark mcgwire broke roger maris’ home run record, and on june 24th he hit his 27th home run off of randy johnson.

this has nothing to do with ween, but i remember that summer well, and the mcgwire / sosa home run race that got so big in 1998 was just starting to percolate. another big part of that summer for me: “return of the mack.” unfortunately, discovering ween and the mollusk were still several years away.

if you’re reading this then you probably know the general background story of how the mollusk was recorded and the adversity the band faced just to get it completed, but for anyone who is unfamiliar:

in 1995 ween rented a house in a town called holgate on the jersey shore to begin recording the followup to chocolate and cheese. shortly after setting up in the house, a water pipe within the house burst and damaged and in some cases totally destroyed their gear and equipment, so they left the house and decided to write and record 12 golden country greats instead. i wrote about that album’s 20th anniversary last year.

once they finished 12 gcc at the end of 1995, they re-started and quickly finished the mollusk at the beginning of 1996. 12 gcc wasn’t released until july of that year, so for a while they had what would ultimately become two of their most popular and flat out best albums sitting on elektra’s shelf waiting to be put out. think about that for a second.

four proper albums into their career, a band that was originally just two guys and a drum machine organically evolve into a full five piece unit and embark on their first effort to record a studio album with the new members. this band encounters a massive setback that most others would never recover from and decides to completely change course and make their version of a country album that was inspired by the goddamn beach boys’ christmas album.

in doing so, they unintentionally form a new band -the shit creek boys- made up of the utmost studio session professionals in the country music capitol of the world (and who probably learned the hard way what “brown” really means). they then reconvene with the original lineup that was meant to record in the beach house and record almost two albums worth of new material. and this is still while they’re waiting for the country album to come out!

after recording is completed, they go on a successful national tour with the shit creek boys backing them on both their old and new material, do one more short tour with just gene, dean and the drum machine as a sort of last hurrah, and at the start of 1997 they become the five piece band we all know and love today.

again, if you’re reading this you most likely already know everything i’ve written so far, but it never ceases to amaze me what this band has done. we could rehash this everyday until trump ends us all and it still wouldn’t make up for the lack of recognition they’ve received. but that’s also what makes it so worthwhile to love the boognish. to love the brown. it’s group of people i am proud to be a part of.

i’m not a big fan of prog rock so i’ve never really thought of the mollusk as that kind of album, but i definitely agree with it being a concept album with a heavy dose of dark, nautical psychedelia. if 12 gcc was ween’s version of a country album then this is their version of a sea shanty album.

after finding out that it was recorded on the jersey shore, i tried setting it to the one movie that i always think of when i hear the words “jersey shore”: eternal sunshine of a spotless mind. it wasn’t exactly like dark side of the moon and the wizard of oz, but it was cool seeing the cinematography of the shore in the winter with the music on the album playing. a northeast beach in winter is bleak and desolate, but also beautiful, and a lot of those images still come back to me when i listen to these songs.

trying to put this album in perspective twenty years after it was released is interesting. i’ve listened to it hundreds of times from start to finish, and every time i think i’ve heard everything it has to offer something new sticks out to me. whether it’s a lyric that hits me in a new way or an instrument or sound layered in the background that adds a new dimension to a song, the mollusk is and always will be a rewarding listen.

in 2017, i can’t think of any bands that i’m familiar with who sound like they’ve been influenced by this album, or ween in general. and maybe that’s on me for not listening to enough new music, but it’s more likely that ween are a modern grateful dead: they’re not the best at what they do, they’re the only ones that do what they do. and any band trying to imitate their sound and ideas are going to be called out very quickly.

“i’m dancing in the show tonight” opens the album perfectly. it’s a children’s song from the 50’s but the way they play it makes it feel like it was sung by pirate’s kids on ship-wide talent shows three hundred years ago. that segues into the title track which is wonderfully hypnotic and bleeds into “polka dot tail” that feels right at home with its playfulness.

“i’ll be your jonny on the spot” gives us our first inkling that maybe this isn’t the best album to put your kids to sleep to after all. “mutilated lips” reaffirms that notion, and has one of my favorite tone inflections (cadence, maybe?) in any ween song with the way gener kind of slowly sings “i said please calm it down… evvv-ree-thing is turning browwwn.” i love everything about that part. i’ll touch on “the blarney stone” in a little bit, but this is not just the perfect drinking song it seems on the surface.

as far as “it’s gonna be (alright)” goes, i’ve said this many times before, but i swear to god they have so many songs that if the songwriting credits read (lennon / mccartney) and not (freeman / melchiondo) many of them would be considered all time classics, and this is one of those songs that along with “birthday boy” and “i don’t want it” are some of the best breakup lyrics ever written.

“the golden eel” is the musical peak of the album. the bongo intro with the heavy synth or whatever it is comes in with the lyrics that gradually build up to the wall of sound chorus with the thundering drumbeat that comes back down again to another verse and chorus before deaner gets to really go off for the final minute while the chorus repeats and the drums keep stomping.

“cold blows the wind” is as haunting as it gets, and maybe the most shanty-esque song on the album. this sounds weird but i always picture the castle where duncan had his eyes torn out in the delightfully cheesy kevin costner robin hood movie prince of thieves. shoutout to maid marian.

“pink eye (on my leg)” is the brown instrumental break we’re all waiting for, and because of the repetitive barking in the background  i’ve always pictured a three legged dog running around a pirate ship chasing the one toy he’s been given to play with by the guys but because they’re on the high seas it keeps sliding around the ship, which sounds like it would be frustrating, much like pink eye (on your leg).

it took me a long time to stop thinking that “waving my dick in the wind” was not on 12 gcc. maybe it’s because i love the version they play with the shit creek boys on live in toronto canada (quick aside: i love how they called it “live in toronto canada” and not just “live in toronto,” just to specify to their idiot fans which toronto the songs were played in), but it definitely sounds like a b-side from the 12 gcc sessions to me.

“buckingham green.” instant classic. the string arrangements, the drums, the marching pace of the music, the vocal effects, the lyrics, the title… one of ween’s best songs period.

“ocean man” is the song that you can tell people they like when they say they don’t like ween. everyone knows this song, whether it’s from the honda commercial or the spongebob movie. but i hear it as the last bit of lighthearted reprieve we get as listeners before the heavier, deeper finale.

besides knowing the words to songs, i’ve never paid much attention to the meaning behind the lyrics (to quote white men can’t jump, i listen, but i don’t hear), so forgive me if this has been obvious to everyone but me for the last twenty years:

i read that the story in “she wanted to leave” is the precursor to “blarney stone” in that the narrator in “leave” is on a boat with his woman, perhaps on a honeymoon with his new wife, when they get accosted by three men or pirates or whomever. the pirates take his lady, and she actually wanted to leave with them because she really loved one of them and not him.

Three men is all they were.
Three men out at sea.
Three men came aboard my ship and took my true love from me.
I couldn’t believe
She wanted to leave
She wanted to leave.
I loved you so long.
Since you were a child.
I’ve cared for your every need.
I’ve tried to make you smile.
And all the while
You wanted to leave
You wanted to leave.
Go gather the guns.
We’ll blast them at sea.
She begged for me not to shoot,
“For my true love is here with me.”
I’ve never loved thee
Now I must leave
Now I must leave.
So go fetch a bottle of rum dear friends and fill up my glass to the rim.
For I’m not the man I used to be
Now I’m one of them.


then in “blarney stone,” which takes place many years later, this same guy, who in the current parlance of our times might be referred to as a “cuck,” is drinking himself into oblivion at a bar with no regard or care for any woman at all, still depressed at the past events on the open water.

i don’t care if either of those are true, it’s just another example at the depth of these songs that make up such a great album.

another thing ween fans say, and it’s true- that’s why we repeat ourselves on an infinite loop, is that ween’s b-sides are better than most band’s greatest hits albums. “kim smoltz,” recorded during the mollusk sessions, is a perfect example:

when they debuted this at their reunion run in broomfield last year it took people a few seconds to realize that we were actually seeing it happen, and luckily just about everyone there understood that it was a very cool moment and shut up for a few minutes so we could all enjoy it.

wash me down” is an unreleased demo that would be right at home with the other session songs, and even though i can’t make out all the lyrics it’s become one of my favorite ween songs.

the mollusk at twenty. pretty amazing. at least once a year i try to listen to every ween album in order on a long drive or over a weekend, and while the pod is always going to be the brownest thing they’ve done, this and 12 gcc are the ones i look forward to on those listening sessions. not because either are my favorite, but because when you can put them in immediate context to the music that came before and after, it crystallizes how impressive this detour from the “usual” ween music people were expecting at the time was, and you really get a sense of how creative these guys can be.

i really hope the reunion means a future studio release, but when the music we already have is this good, it doesn’t really matter.

rise, boognish, rise.




the first 100 days of a president’s… presidency, are, for some reason, considered to be worth talking about.

an arbitrary number that stems from a misunderstood fdr quote about congress from more than eighty years ago, this initial time period has been used to reflect a first term president’s successes and failures while trying to outline the remainder of the next four years.

our current president’s first 100 days were just up last week, but, coincidentally, i realized that spafford was added to nugs dot net back on january 24th, making today their 100th day on the site, and i think now is a perfect time to talk about what they’ve accomplished in their first 100 days being on this most prestigious application.

now, many of you may be hesitant to continue reading. comparing an 8th tier hambland to the most powerful position in the free world? “stupid,” you’re probably thinking.

well let me tell you this:

i went to an ivy league school. i’m very highly educated. i know words. i have the best words. the previous five years of a spafford-less nugs site? sad. terrible. awful. a total disaster. it was a place for losers.

but the last three months on this terrific app we call nugs, the creators of whom are honored to be great, great friends of mine? huge. you never saw such tremendous web traffic.

it really makes you wonder why there was a civil war they weren’t on there from the beginning. the only difference between spafford and these other nugs bands is that spafford’s jams are more honest and their women are more beautiful.

believe me, when we get through these shows and this blog, we’re going to make history. millions and millions and billions and billions of jams are going to be covered.

we’re going to take care of the haters and the morons by building a wall… of musical knowledge. i can’t even describe this wall- it’s just going to be a super classy wall.

china. jeb bush. little marco.

being on the nugs app may not seem like a big deal when you explain it to a normal, but considering where this band was just six months ago, this is a massive step forward. by the end of 2017 spafford will most likely have played almost half the total number of shows they’d played the previous six years combined.

going from an audience of thirteen at cranky pat’s square slices and broken dreams pizzeria in neenah, wisconsin last october to selling out shows at the bluebird in denver and the jam mecca, nectar’s, in burlington just last month… that’s not how this usually happens.

and of course, opening for umphrey’s for two months put them on more people’s radar than a streaming service ever could in such a short time period, but having these shows available immediately allowed newcomers to relisten to what they saw in person and confirm what they may have been skeptical of believing for themselves.

was it the energy of the room that made this band sound so amazing? was it because the stripper at the post-show club really liked me this time guys i swear? was it the party favors, perhaps?

nah. they’re just this good.

and everyone’s favorite lopez, lopez, summed it up perfectly when he tweeted “i wonder how many bands had their first and last tour as an opener be the same tour…?”

that’s a slight exaggeration, as it would definitely help to do a few more tours opening for umphrey’s or another band at that level, but there’s no hyperbole regarding how well they played.

mixing in a number of long one set shows and full two set shows throughout the umphrey’s tour gave them the ability to stretch out and not be continuously hindered by the 45 minutes they were allotted each night.

so here we go, as of right now these are all the spafford shows available from my great, great friends over at nugs dot net. you should definitely listen to every show at some point. there are gems everywhere.

no ratings, grades or any other triviality- just an appreciation of the last few months. full shows unless otherwise noted.

also, i ran out of useful synonyms somewhere around the third show so forgive the repeated “sick”s, “nasty”s, “great”s and what have yous. i tried to rein it in but there’s only so many ways to talk about how good this music is.

anyway… onward and upward.

1/21/17 – 4 song opening set – just their second show of the tour, there’s some solid playing but overall it feels a little restrained. understandable, given the circumstances. great “todd’s tots” though.

1/24/17 – awesome show with a full set finally letting them play the way they’re used to. “virtual bean dip” is a candidate for best jam of the tour, lovely segue into a really good version of “leave the light on,” and an excellent “postman > palisades > galisteo way” to close it out before a double dipper encore. nice little “bee jam” in there too.

1/25/17 – second night in a row they bring the desert heat to virgin northeast ears. “remedy” and “walls” are superb and two of my favorite jams of the tour. “in the eyes of thieves” gets a great jam here and the last forty minutes are pure bliss with the “electric taco stand” alternate ending that gets me every time, a fun “salamander song” and raging and multifaceted “all in” that close the show before red kills the “beautiful day” encore.

1/26/17 – 4 song opening set – interesting call opening with “seven” which has only been played a handful of times, nice “leave the light on,” typically blissful “windmill” peak,  and a really good postman. not much more you can ask for in 45 minutes.

1/27/17 – 4 song opening set – nasty “in the eyes of thieves” opener that rages, cools off, jams hard then segues perfectly into “galisteo way.” good “people” into a short and sweet “ain’t that wrong.”

2/1/17 – i have to admit i didn’t even know what “dream jam” was when i saw this setlist, but it got my immediate attention with the nineteen minute track length. just the ninth time this song has ever been played (and only the second time in nearly three years), dream jam sets the tone right away.

probably my most listened to song of the tour, dream jam is a beautiful instrumental that is the perfect song to set the stage for a massive “windmill” in the second slot and a par-for-the-tour fantastic “backdoor funk.” three songs in fifty minutes to open the show? i mean i guess i’ll take it.

“red’s jam” batting cleanup fits perfectly. my favorite version is from 1/1/16 sandwiched in between a stellar “america” and “walls.” give it a few listens, it’s well worth your time.

the always-welcome “weasel > palisades > weasel” combo slides right into a nice “slip and squander” before the show ends with yet another massive jam vehicle, “leave the light on.”

and finally, “todd’s tots” in the rare encore slot closes things out.

wow. this is a hell of a show. i think most of us prefer the slightly longer two set shows, maybe because they feel more complete or something, i don’t know. but spafford has mastered these long one set shows, and they’re almost more fun to listen to if you weren’t there.

again, i don’t know why, but they’ve gotten so good at writing their setlists to mix in just enough of everything that helps make a show perfect, and buffalo is up there at the top with the best shows i’ve ever seen.

2/2/17 – 4 song opening set – excellent “walls”, a cool little jam in the middle of “people,” an exploratory “all in,” and with any other band “remedy” would’ve been an after thought but they slayed this one and ended the set on a high note.

2/3/17 – 4 song opening set – “virtual bean dip” is tight but short and sweet, “legend” is good, there’s a really nice unique little melody we don’t usually get during the last three minutes of “ain’t that wrong” with a segue into a well played “leave the light on.”

2/4/17 – 5 song opening set – awesome jammed out “postman,” nice “salamander song,” the debut of the lovely instrumental “it’s a bunch,” tight “slip and squander” next with a raging “the reprise” out of nowhere to finish the set. sweet.

2/8/17 – “backdoor funk” and “the reprise” kick things off in high gear but the “virtual bean dip” is the big kahuna in this show. it goes in so many awesome directions there’s no point -really though, is there ever?- in trying to describe it. this is a must-listen. it’s crazy how different this one is from the philly version, which is excellent in it’s own right, but in vastly different ways.

“leave the light on” can’t be forgotten either. unfinished, yet another absolutely stellar version. and a huge “walls” to close… wait, this is just set one?!? sweet aunt jemima! just an amazing performance right here. truly exceptional.

set two is very good in it’s own right but it was going to be almost impossible to top what they did in the first set. give it a listen for sure. “lonely” gives the milwaukee version a run for it’s money and “bee jam” gets jammed out to an awesome segue that finishes the “leave the light on” from set one. the always lovely “diana” encores and takes us home.

another near perfect show.

2/12/17 – on paper, charlottesville doesn’t seem to have anything that jumps out besides a fifteen minute “palisades,” which is indeed an awesome jam, but this one deserves to be listened to from start to finish. the “hollywood” into “the reprise” is great, and is, i think, the first jammed out “hollywood” since 10/30/15, making it just the second time they’ve extended that lovely song. good show overall.

2/17/17 – solid aftershow for umphrey’s. not much else to add.

3/10/17 – 4 song opening set – hard to believe this “virtual bean dip” is only 9 minutes bc they take it all over the place, great version w nice segue into “the remedy” that finishes really strong and transitions into a really tight “all in” which then in turn segues into “backdoor funk.” near the ten minute mark i hear a slight tease of the riff that would blossom into the gorgeous bliss jam a week later in l.a. in another great version of bdf.

3/16/17 – 5 song opening set –  the band coming out to a standing ovation and not really knowing how to proceed while trying to take it all in, a humbling experience for both them and their fans. opening with “beautiful day” was the best decision they made all tour, and having brendan bayliss sit in on “the postman” was just the icing on the cake. or so we thought, until a drop to your knees and let jesus carry you home level of pure joy erupted in “salamander song.” this is how you do a homecoming show.

3/17/17 – 5 song opening set – “windmill” opener is always welcome. this one has a great jam and peak. a fine “simon & lily” follows, then a tight and high energy “on fire”, pretty basic “leave the light on” until the last four minutes where it kicks into high gear before abruptly dropping into a set closing “hollywood.”


damn. this is getting long. let’s take a break. with some porn.


3/22/17 – san marcos is a solid show, with a nice big “leave the light on” in the end, but other than some very tight and high quality playing there’s nothing else that stood out to me in this one. note that “tight and high quality playing” is used almost as a put down here (though it’s not meant to be), whereas with every other band that’s the highlight. lasers, man. lasers.

3/23/17 – houston definitely takes off from where san marcos touched on, with a lot of great but unextended jams sprinkled throughout. this show had much better direction throughout the setlist, and the playing reflects that.

3/25/17 – dallas is easily the best of these three texas show, as “standing outside a broken phone booth with money in my hand” had an awesome and dark little electronic type of jam that segued so nicely into “in the eyes of thieves” that it instantly became a tour highlight. definitely go back and listen to both songs but especially the last minute of phone booth before thieves comes in.

4/6/17 – milwaukee and chicago had the most number of songs i’ve seen the band play in just two shows in a long time, but they did it right. sandwiching “red’s jam” in between “the remedy” to open the show was awesome. the debut of their cover of “sweet” by the cheektones, a local prescott band, was cool too.

set two’s “lonely” is one of if not the best jams of the tour, featuring some really phenomenal drum playing by nick, who really drives this thing the whole way. i didn’t actually appreciate this one, though, until i saw the love it was getting on everyone’s favorite drug band message board.

after relistening a bunch of times i quickly understood why it was getting so much praise. this is the definition of a tight, complete jam with no filler whatsoever.

thanks also to lopez for streaming this one!

4/8/17 – oh hi we’re spafford hmmm let’s see what can we open with here… “crazy”? “people”? “black betty”? nah we’ve done that before. no, wait, it can’t be… tha- tha- that’s “six underground”‘s music! holy hell they opened a sellout show for 750 people in a city they’d only really played in once before with a song from the soundtrack to the motherfuckin saint?!?!?! val kilmer! elizabeth shue! awful costumes, horrific makeup and the worst fake accents in cinematic history! that saint! spafford is the greatest band in the goddamn world and we will bow before them lest our offspring be smitten with the teeth of uncle val’s ridiculous scientist character! hail! hail! hailllllllllll! the spaff from the desert!

yeah i guess they played a fuckin top nutch nut grabber of a show after that. what of it? go listen to it yourself if you want to know how good it was. i’ll be here basking in all this sneaker pimp glory.

4/30/17 – “some kind of jam” got treated to a humdinger for what appears to have been their indoor aftershow. this was the “we traveled back east for one gig so let’s relax and let our big balls flop around for everyone to see” show.

big awesome jams in “backdoor funk,” “leave the light on,” “all in,” “electric taco stand,” giving two of the new songs some love in “mind’s unchained” and “it’s a bunch,” raging “the reprise” as the show closer with a “galisteo way” that left the promoter out of breath while he screamed at the audience to show the band some love as they walked off the stage. good stuff.

i know i said no ratings but that’s no fun i want to start some arguments with you nerds so dig this shit right here:

best opening set: no competition here, there can be only one and it’s the marquee in tempe on 3/16. see above if you don’t know why. stateline 3/10 is a close second with one long segued set, but it was always going to be tempe.

best opening song: “dream jam > windmill” from buffalo on 2/1. 35 minutes of glorious hose filled beauty. can’t top that in my book.

best jam: as i said before, the miramar “lonely” seems to be the spaffnerd favorite, and while it’s hard to argue, it doesn’t stand that far above the rest for me to just go with what feels like the majority. for the last few weeks, the buffalo “dream jam” was my easy pick. then i listened to the philly “virtual bean dip” opener and couldn’t stop playing that one.

several “leave the light on”‘s and “electric taco stand”‘s are in this category as well, but after many listens to make sure i wasn’t overrating it, i’m going with “virtual bean dip” from columbus on 2/8. this is the one, folks, at least for me. give it several listens and really let it sink in. that whole show is astounding and might be the show of the tour, but this vbd really takes you places.

best segue: the 3/25 dallas “standing outside a broken phone booth with money in my hand” into “in the eyes of thieves.” this was an easy one for me. the playing at the end of phone booth is deep and moving while the segue into thieves can go unnoticed for a few minutes if you’re not paying attention. an extraordinary one two punch and the best thing to come from the texas shows.

the buffalo dream jam > windmill is sublime and a very very close second, as is the philly virtual bean dip > leave the light on and the columbus bee jam > leave the light on completion. the charlottesville hollywood > reprise definitely deserves a shout out too.

best show: philadelphia, asbury park, buffalo, columbus, dallas, milwaukee, chicago and whatever town some kind of jam is in, were all treated to B+ or better shows. and no one who’s been following spafford for any length of time will tell you that they’re surprised by this.

everyone who’s just getting on board, get used to seeing this band kill it every single time. it’s a beautiful thing to witness.

but i have to say that buffalo is the closest thing i’ve seen to a perfect spafford show. i’ve listened to it a dozen times, if not more. before going through every show again i already had this paragraph written out, fawning adjectives and all.

but then i relistened to the asheville show. then once more. and once more after that. and after i realized that i’d gotten lost in this show five or six times without even knowing it, i was struck by how smoothly the whole show runs from the opening and nearly trance-inducing “funkadelic” to the ragey and uplifting “galisteo way” encore.

“funkadelic” never gets too high and shows patience by all four members throughout, slowly rolling along until to the end where it segues into “america,” only it doesn’t feel like “america” until more than two minutes in. brian’s staccato riffing sounds a bit like “punch you in the eye” on crack. but the good kind, that doesn’t get you addicted or rot your teeth.

there are several great riffs brian touches on in this jam and after the first listen it may sound like it’s all over the place, and maybe it is to a small extent, but this is the sound of a band that is pumped up, and i’ll take that kind of energy every time.

they cool it down a bit with one of my favorite newer covers, “standing outside a broken phone booth with money in my hand.” from what i heard, this asheville crowd was big and rowdy with many still flying from the umphrey’s show, so for spafford to slow things down like this in front of that crowd takes some serious balls. and phone booth isn’t some three minute breather. this thing goes for more than eight minutes, and luckily for everyone there it does so into a dynamite “backdoor funk.”

bdf gets taken for a ride here, but not until after they develop a gorgeous melody around the five minute mark. bdf has gotten jammed out really nicely this tour and in a lot of different ways. a highlight in a show that is seriously filled with them.

“diana” is perfect before they get back on the horse with a joyous “electric taco stand” and an ocean deep “the postman” that takes several listens for the whole thing to even remotely sink in.

a climactic “galisteo way” as the lone encore puts a bow on this incredible show, so there it is. asheville is my pick for best show of what’s available on nugs dot net. there’s a lot out there that’s still unreleased, so here’s hoping more soundboards continue to pop up.

also, i hope i got at least one you nerds with the “nice aftershow” fakeout above. if not, i guess i really need a new hobby.

best surprise jam: “six underground” baybeeeee!!!! not just a surprise song, this bad boy clocks in at eleven minutes of shocking exploration. i love this band.

best encore: gonna have to cheat and put the 4/22 last exit phoenix show here even though it’s not on nugs.

opening with brian solo on “the man,” the debut and i believe first radiohead cover ever played with “everything in it’s right place” that gets nice and spooky and ultimately segues perfectly into the closing of “all in” from the first set.

sorry not sorry there’s just no beating that, and while there are certainly some encores that are actually on nugs and deserve an honorable mention, closing out the last exit homecoming in this fashion was unparalleled and a flat out treat to everyone there. probably the best encore i’ve ever seen, period.

and while we’re on the subject of the last exit shows, definitely give those a listen [or a watch, here (4/21) and here (4/22)]. the audience recordings on archive are damn near unlistenable, mostly because it was a chomper’s paradise.

the new layout at last exit is perfect, but the combination of chatter from the outside patio that bled indoors and the natural excitement of a very small but tightknit group of people who collectively hadn’t seen each other in a long time made for a perfect storm of loud but happy slurring throughout the night.

if you were there, though, hot damn was that a great time. the “bee jam > midnight rider > bee jam” right after “all my friends” to kick things off was so nice, and everyone loves a “crazy” appearance on top of a nasty “weasel > palisades > weasel.”

and then one of if not the best “postman”‘s i’ve ever seen to open the second night, followed two songs later by the aforementioned and unfinished “all in” that abruptly went into “salamander song” and one of my new favorite covers, “spell yourself” which fits the band and this night in particular perfectly.

not to mention they finished that with an out of nowhere “when the saints go marching in” instrumental tease. last exit live is to spafford what nectar’s was to phish, so if you really love this band then you owe it to yourself to make a trip out here if and when they play there again. ask the milwaukee crew. they’re basically regulars there now.

i gotta say, these 100 days took a lot out of me. who wants to buy night train a slice? cheeses crust i’m hungry!


vibrating with love and lasers,






p.s. i changed my mind columbus is the show of the tour


i love ennio morricone’s soundtrack to the good, the bad and the ugly. i don’t know why but it feels like a great way to kick off the weekend.

and if you even remotely like this then you should check out rome, the 2011 album by danger mouse and daniele luppi that also features jack white and norah jones.

rome is an excellent modern take on the music that was typically featured in spaghetti western films in the 60’s and 70’s.