Nerds! Here we sit as the trees change color, the hoodies come out, and we are bathed in the joy, or horror, that is pumpkin spice. Okay, who am I kidding, I live in Arizona, the trees don't change and the hoodies don't come out until December. In fact, the only harbinger of the change in season is the inevitable coming of Spafford's Fall Tour which begins TOMORROW! (Cue gasp.)
In celebration of the joy that will befall (get it... it's a pun...) our ears, hearts, and minds over the next few months we are kicking off a new pin and a new hat in the Spaffnerds store, and we're giving away (2) 12 months subscriptions to Nugs.net! Yes, you can spend an entire year listening to all your favorite jam bands at no cost to you while wearing a cool hat with a funky pair of pins stuck in it.
Check out these cool new products in the store:
Woah! Awesome! How's it work???
There are (2) subscriptions being given away. There are 2 ways to enter:
We're going to give (1) subscription to Nugs away to a lucky nerd who buys something (other than stickers) from the store. It doesn't have to be a new product, and each purchase entitles you to 1 entry. That's each sale, not each item in the cart. In order to protect the privacy of our buyers we will do that drawing offline and contact the winner directly. We will ask his or her permission before posting his or her name.
Raise your hand
We're going to give (1) subscription to a lucky winner who does nothing more than add his or her name to this post. All you've got to do is log in with your account (or make a new one) and then comment on this post saying you want to be entered in the drawing. Sure you can also like our Facebook Page and follow us on twitter, and maybe even check out our YouTube Channel, but that's not required.
Woah! Awesome! What are the details??
We'll draw for both subscriptions next Thursday, 10/11/2018 at 12:00 (ish) PST. We'll draw the first subscription in private, as mentioned above. The second subscription we will draw on facebook live in the same way we have done in the past. We'll contact a lucky winner through spaffnerds.com's chat messenger and also post the winner to this post. So be sure to check back here next week.
You can't win both prizes. But you're welcome to enter both drawings. If you win the first we'll just take you off the list for the second. If you've already won one of these drawings in the past, and your free subscription is still active, you can't win again. Be fair to the other Nerds.
Why do you keep saying "Woah! Awesome!", are you actually Keanu Reeves?
No. Don't be ridiculous. But man, Bill's stepmom is hot.
If you're new here
If you're new to spaffnerds we encourage you to take a look around. Track your shows, find free soundboards and try out the embedded audio player, check out one of the 38 shows we have with full show video, or post on the forums to engage with the other nerds.
Vote in the coming elections!
Seriously. You need to register to vote and you need to go out and vote. This may be the most important election of your entire life. Get out and vote. Want more info... check out Headcount. You'll see these guys at shows, staffed by volunteers like you who want their fellow Nerds and hippies to be better represented in politics. Also check out vote.org for easy registration and information. You need to vote. Go vote. VOTE!
It's finally here! The NYE announcement you've ACTUALLY been waiting for. Though not nearly as surprising as where some other bands have chosen to play, Spafford will return to PHX to give some love to the hometown AZ crowd. The Spaffour will play 12/30 and 12/31 at The Van Buren in downtown Phoenix.
Tickets go on sale to the public Friday at 10am PST but there's a presale on Thursday and VIP packages go on sale tomorrow. As always you can buy your tickets through Spaffnerds and help support the site.
We're really excited to welcome the boys home to the desert to ring in the New Year. If you've never been to Phoenix in December you're in for a treat. After personally spending countless NYE's on the streets of Manhattan it's an absolute pleasure to be able to wear a hoodie and jeans and still be comfortable. Book your hotels and air fare. Get your tickets... and come join the Herd in the desert for a New Year's Eve that you won't soon forget. Of course, you're welcome to enjoy it so hard that you don't remember it either.
Brewin’ Down the House
WOW!!!!! I feel this sums up the entire night at Leftover Salmon’s 3rd Annual Blue Ridge Jam, but I’ll try to convey it a bit better in some detail.
There were a lot of firsts for me on Saturday, first time seeing Salmon since their hiatus in 2004, first time my 3yr old son went to a concert, first time my entire family took a road trip specifically for a show, and first time at the Pisgah Brewery, to name a few. I would like to state on the record here that the Pisgah Brewery has done an amazing job at creating a friendly environment all around and their “backyard”, as I have affectionately dubbed their Outdoor Venue, is stunning!!! Quaint and intimate while still being rather large. They even have tree columns on stage to mimic the environment behind the stage. Really sweet spot I highly recommend checking out when you can!
The clan and I arrived about 30 min before the Jon Stickley Trio and posted up behind the soundboard and to the right. Side note, Jon Stickley Trio was a real treat as well and I’m really glad we got there early enough to see them. Anyway, in the break between the Trio and Spafford, I noticed a guy standing in the path with the same Spaffnerds/Star Wars shirt I was wearing, so I sent my daughter down to hand him some slaps. Indeed, the Spaffnerds had begun filtering to the outdoor space. Later, my new shirt twin would come up and introduce himself as Matt Smith. This is one thing I have not experienced in a long time. The immediate camaraderie between fans at a show is extremely uplifting. I know there are several of you I keep missing at shows, but we will meet, I have no doubt!!! Anyway, Matt and I chatted for a minute, I added to his starter pack of slaps, and gave him a bee jam sticker.
I eventually went back to my family and paced as I awaited the start of the set. First show back after a blistering summer festy tour. Another short set but they tend to make the most of those if recent history is any indication. Spafford takes the stage and I smile as I watch my daughter pause from playing with her new-found friend to cheer for Spafford!!
All My Friends rips out over the system. I had no idea gifting that bee jam sticker to someone would make the universe bless us with this opening sequence. There’s no doubt from this short song that they came to throw down. Brian looks jazzed to be there and is immediately dancing around. They absolutely attack the opener, Red lays down a hot key solo, keep it short and sweet, as it should be and slide right into…
>Bee Jam! The only thing that my notes say for this song is WOW!!! And here’s why: The one thing that drew me to Spafford’s music more than any other element, is their ability show peaks and valleys. To me, they show more variation in this realm than most of the “rising star” bands I have heard. This Bee Jam is a particularly good example of that. The way they move as a group, from those soft, transcendent moments, into the heavy, shred fest is a beautiful thing to witness. The older lady next to us, the one my son adopted as soon as she sat down, even began smiling and bouncing in her seat, dancing around with my son. Like the ancient, green, rolling landscape surrounding them, they eased from peak to valley and back again. Of course, part of me was quietly hoping for a 40-50 min jam, knowing full well that wasn’t likely, but you never know. Soon the tone of the jam changes, Brian and Cam purposefully drag the tempo down slightly and you can hear the transition clearly.
Really sweet, easy transition into People. The nice chill jam after the lyric section, was a great way to relax for a moment and catch your breath capped by a BEAUTIFUL piano solo by Red that evolved, effortlessly into the final build of the song. Again, I must remark on the ability to flow from peak to valley to peak. Stunning!!! Red gets my nod of appreciation in this opening sequence. Ripped a couple of sweet solos and provided amazing depth throughout the jam sections.
First break of the set. My son runs over, clapping and screaming “YAY!!!!” Red gets a shout out from Brian and they quickly jump into Leave The Light On. LTLO is always a fun song to hear. Everyone seems to like it, or at least have a fond appreciation for it, and it always seems to get people singing and dancing along. No exception here. This is one of the few songs even my wife, who is not a musicaholic like myself, knows. It also has the potential for huge jam options. They again show no signs of wanting to rush through a song. A nice instrumental stretch between verses and then they quickly settle into a spacey jam section. The build for this song was glorious. Slow and patient, it layered and built itself up so discreetly that about half way through it I thought, “How did they even get to this point without me noticing?” They end it strongly with everyone singing along to the chorus. Even my daughter has taken a break from her fantasy bubble to come over and dance and sing with me.
Another short break, this time with a Jordan shout out from Brian, then the soothing strut of Minds Unchained flows over the crowd. I can almost feel the smiles from across the yard. A nice easy, sustained intro led us into the verses. The tempo feels perfect, not too fast that it’s pushing you along but not so slow as to be left behind. Again, the jam starts off easy and feels as if it is just one long, well-crafted build. Super tight and Brian just destroys the jam section. I also have a moment here to take it all in. The environment, music, people, the beautiful nature surrounding us, the moon slowly creeping up behind the stage as if it too wanted to be a part of this moment.
Plans shows up next on the setlist. I was really excited to hear this song live again. The last time I heard it was at my second show almost a year ago, before I dug into their music like a starving fox in a packed hen house. The moment they dropped into that Latin-esque breakdown, folks in the back near us began dancing with each other, smiling wildly. Red catches me several times throughout this song with his cascading flurries breaking over the top and then floating back to add more depth to the heart of the soundscape. Peaks and Valleys…again!!! Patient yet deliberant switches from one to the other. I spend some time during Plans with my daughter, up by the soundboard. I’m not sure she was as ready for that as she thought honestly. She enjoyed her time up there but was quickly eager to head back when I asked if she was done.
Ain’t That Wrong was a perfect choice to end the set with. High energy, very danceable, and an overall fun tune. It felt like they wanted to leave an indelible stamp on their evening there. Really tight piano work by Red transitioning from rhythm to those graceful slides, Jordan and Cam just driving the song like Neal Cassady drove a stolen Cadillac, and Brian weaving in and out of it all!!! No frills, straight forward, shredding rock!! A really impressive way to end an amazingly tight, high energy set.
They may not have ripped off a two-song set, it was a festival type setting, but they played with a TON of enthusiasm and they were tight. They chose a great setlist, in my opinion, for the time they had as well as the crowd. Spafford was certainly the anomaly on the line-up for the day, but they fit right in to the more slam-grass eager crowd. Not surprising when you think of the place though. From the moment we pulled into the parking lot we were welcomed with friendly faces and kind smiles. Everyone we encountered, from those working to those there to see a show, were friendly, happy, and respectful, which made the whole experience one of those magical nights that you hope every show might be. Being able to share that experience with my whole clan there knocked it up another level for me. Spafford certainly made the most of their short time on stage…again. It left me super excited for what they are going to throw down this upcoming Fall Tour. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. Hope to see you out there ‘nerds!!!
In the end we're a community, maybe even a family, and we help our own. Geoff Johnson, Red's brother, has been facing some daunting medical issues. He's a single father and a teacher in the state of Arizona. Let's help him out by contributing what we can to a GoFundMe which has been setup to deal with his medical bills. Every little bit helps, so even if you've got $5 to throw in, go for it.
Spaffnerds has made a donation to support Geoff thanks, in part, to your merch purchases and past donations. The money we have is here to support the community and we see no better way than lending a hand to our friend. Geoff's a great guy and I know he'll pull through this with grace and gusto. You can find out more here:
Locked in for Lockn’
Oh, the magic that is Lockn’!!! A reminder of the days when the large music festivals were filing their lineup with jam friendly bands and packing the side stages with every regional and local act they could find. Certainly, it is one of the few larger festivals that caters too those who crave improvised music. I was absolutely delighted to see Spafford on the lineup for Lockn’ as it is one of my favorite festivals to attend in general and I know the scene watches this fest closely.
Sunday afternoon is not the day I personally would have picked for Spafford. True, they are rather new to the scene, this was evident in the fact that most of the people I talked to throughout the weekend many had only heard OF them, not actually heard them. My personal theory on this has to do with age. Wait a second and hear me out. I am over 40 myself so this is not a slight, just my observations. It seems to me that Spafford sits in a grey area between age gaps. Not quite electronic dance music but not quite just full-out rock and roll either. So, it seems to me that they sit in the middle of the age spectrum yet still gather fans from either side. I think this makes them perfect for Lockn’ as that is a perfect age group for the fest to target.
Personal theories aside, I was eagerly anticipating this set. I knew it would be a short one but what would they do with it? I had our vendor neighbors excited to see them as neither of them had before. So, I enter the concert field at about 2:00 and quickly head to the soundboard area. The heat pushed a lot of people back to the shade after Keller’s Gospel set, so the field was only spattered with people at the end of the Judy Chops set. As the final note rang out, the stage began to turn, and the boys were already jamming as they spun into sight. The sound switched over to them and we were off to a running start.
Broken Wing opens up the set. You can hear it as soon as the main sound system picks them up. It was a hot tempo too. Brian can be seen sending back monitor adjustments. A short intro jam leads into the main body of the song There were some technical difficulties at the beginning. First a loud POP from the system at one point that was quickly fixed and then in between verses it looked like Brian lost a cable connection or something as he had to bend down and fix it. The song itself was a feisty little romp but fairly safe and standard. I like this song a lot and think it has potential for some huge jams, but I personally think this song might fit better later in a setlist. The song ends strongly, although I can’t help but feel that there might have been a little frustration at the tech stuff that took Brian out of the mindset for a second.
Red stands and waves at the crowd which has now filled in the central pit of the main stage and the crowd goes nuts. More younger people in the field overall but some of the older heads are there to check out this quickly rising band. The opening phrase of Slip and Squander greets us as the 2nd song of the set. I have mixed emotions about the placement and choice here. It was played beautifully, and Red’s voice was on point for sure, however, after the rockin’ intro it seemed to take the vibe down a little in the crowd. The lyrical section was tight as always and the instrumental build was patient and well-crafted but Red’s voice is the strongest part of this version to me.
A short break after SaS and the quick-tempo, funk-strut of Electric Taco Stand graces our ear holes. This song immediately breathes new life into the crowd and despite it being the hottest day of the festival, people get up and start to dance hard. I think ETS also hit a higher gear for the boys too. Brian finally seems to let loose a bit more adding little flourishes here and there that were less noticeable earlier. Jordan’s bass sounds amazing! Really clear and heavy yet not overpowering. After the first few minutes of sound issues, the mix was perfect in the field. I could easily hear Red’s keys tinkling down over the crowd as clearly as I could hear Brian shred and feel Jordan drop bombs. ETS certainly brought the heat. Again, I notice the communication between the group, especially between Brian and Cam. At one point I see Brain actively trying to pick up the tempo in the jam section and Cam immediately responds. Not much of a change but just where it needed to be. They really seem to be firing on all cylinders now. Brian is dancing around as they patiently make their way to the build. As they wind back into the melody of the song, building into a huge crescendo the guy standing next to me dances over and says, “This drummer is on point!”, then dances back to his blanket blissfully smiling. As the song ends the crowd erupts and even those that were laying down getting some sun were on their feet.
With about 20ish minutes left in the set it seems like the perfect place for All In. Sure enough, right after I think that, they drop into it. I’ve never seen this song fail to win a crowd, especially as the end of a short set. There are so many styles they happily wander through that there seems to be something for everyone. The composed, heavy section ends and they ease into that rolling reggae feel. Everything feels really light now. Red has descending runs down the keys that seem to peek out of nowhere. Brian’s fingers seem so nimble as he switches back and forth from strumming to picking, slowly pushing the jam forward and up. Really beautiful, patient jam. You can hear Cam pushing things slightly, but it’s balanced by Brian’s longer tones. This is my highlight of the set and everyone is up dancing around now. The build to the end is large and finds Cam and Brian playing off each other to perfection as Red fills in the sound to give them a landscape to play on. The song and the set end on a massively high note and with authority.
As the stage spins back around, I begin the long walk back to the booth I was working, handing out slaps as I go. After that ETS and All In, with Pete Shapiro watching and smiling from the side of stage, I have no doubt that Spafford will be back at Lockn’. I know for a fact that they gained many fans. I’m hoping for a better time slot honestly. Maybe even a night spot so we can see the amazing light shows as well. Personally, I’m hoping for them to slide into that late-night Saturday spot. Two nights of JRAD late night and a night of Spafford late night? I’d buy tickets just to go to late night!!!!