The Weight Band, Dec. 2020, Clubhouse Recording Studio, Rhinebeck, NY
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Spectacle Live today added two more shows to their concert lineup at The JPT – The Weight Band and Al Di Meola.

The Weight Band will perform on Thursday, August 25th at 8 pm.

Performing original songs as well as classics of The Band, The Weight Band is led by Jim Weider, a 15-year former member of The Band and the Levon Helm Band. The Weight Band originated in 2013 inside the famed Woodstock barn of Levon Helm. Weider was inspired by Helm to carry on the musical legacy of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group.

Al Di Meola will perform on Friday, September 16th at 8 pm.

A bona fide guitar hero and perennial poll-winner, Al Di Meola has been recognized internationally over the past four decades as virtuoso of the highest order. A prolific composer and prodigious six-string talent, Di Meola’s dazzling technique on both acoustic and electric guitars has afforded him regal status among the hordes of fretboard aficionados who regularly flock to his concerts, while the depth of his writing and the soulfulness of his guitaristic expression have won him legions of fans worldwide.

Spectacle Live, a Lexington, MA-based production company, has brought/is bringing the following shows to The JPT this year – The High Kings on March 19,  10,000 Maniacs on April 29, The Wallflowers on May 26, Ronan Tynan on June 5, Celebrating Billy Joel – America’s Piano Man on June 19, Maria Bamford on July 16, Della Mae on July 27, and Judy Collins on August 19 and 20, and Eileen Ivers on December 17.

THE WEIGHT BAND

On their new album, Shines Like Gold, The Weight Band presents a dynamic set of classic Americana that draws upon roadhouse rock, funky swamp pop, blues, country soul and folk music. Composed of band leader, renowned guitarist Jim Weider (The Band, Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble Band, Jim Weider Band), keyboardist Brian Mitchell (Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble Band), bassist Albert Rogers (Jim Weider Band, Jimmy Vivino), drummer Michael Bram (Jason Mraz) and keyboardist Matt Zeiner (Dickey Betts), the veteran quintet shares a deep appreciation and knowledge for this music, which Weider describes as the “Woodstock Sound.” The Weight Band continues to serve as its torchbearer, with Shines Like Gold representing a sublime example of these masterful roots musicians at work.

The Weight Band recorded Shine Like Gold live at Clubhouse Studios in Rhinebeck, NY, over four days – with minimal rehearsal during the height of the pandemic in 2020. Producer Colin Linden, an award-winning musician and Weider’s longtime collaborator and co-writer on several of the album tracks, was in Nashville. The arrangement, however, worked out perfectly, according to Weider. “He had a big hand and footprint on this record. Weider added, “We go back, so there is a comfortableness working with him.”

In 2017, The Weight Band performed on the PBS series Infinity Hall Live. The following year, their self-produced debut, World Gone Mad, was released to strong reviews. Billboard called it “excellent” while Goldmine Magazine hailed World Gone Mad as one of the year’s best indie albums. Most recently, the Weight Band put out Acoustic Live in 2021. This 11-track album features five songs recorded at the Big Pink on October 25, 2019, and six songs recorded the following night in Levon Helm’s barn/studio. Performances include memorable versions of “World Gone Mad,” Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited,” Jerry Garcia’s “Deal,” and several Band covers.

The Weight Band’s origins are tied to Woodstock and some of its most famous inhabitants,

The Band. Weider, a Woodstock native, served as The Band’s lead guitarist from 1985-2000, following Robbie Robertson’s departure. In the late 00s, he replaced Jimmy Vivino in the Levon Helm Band, which already included Mitchell. The connections extend further, as Rogers shared the stage with Helm and Hudson while in The Jim Weider Band and Bram drummed in the Chris O’Leary Band, an off-shoot of Helm’s band The Barnburners.

Following Helm’s death in 2012, Weider performed a few “Songs of The Band” concerts, which included Vivino, Byron Isaacs, Randy Ciarlante and Garth Hudson. The shows were so well received that Weider started the first version of The Weight Band with Ciarlante, Isaacs, Mitchell, and keyboardist Marty Grebb. Over the next several years, the group shifted from playing mainly Band songs to their originals. Along the way, band membership shifted too. When Isaacs left for the Lumineers, Rogers came aboard. Bram joined the group after Ciarlante’s departure. Following World Gone Mad’s release, Grebb bowed out and Zeiner stepped in.

THE WEIGHT BAND MEMBERS:

Jim Weider (guitar, mandolin & vocals) is a former member of The Band. From 1985 to 2000, Weider replaced Robbie Robertson as their lead guitarist, writing songs and performing on their three studio albums, Jericho, High on the Hog, and Jubilation. He toured internationally with original Band members Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, and Rick Danko for fifteen years and was featured with them on numerous albums, films, videos, and in television appearances.

Michael Bram (drums & vocals) is a soulful singer and multi-instrumentalist. Bram splits his time drumming for The Weight Band and Jason Mraz. He has been a staple in the New York music scene for almost two decades- other career highlights include working with Willie Nelson and recording tracks with Bob Margolin of The Last Waltz fame.

Brian Mitchell (keyboards & vocals) is a current member of Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble Band and is well-known within the circles of the music industry and beyond for his solo career and his high-profile collaborations. He has recorded and performed with some of music’s most respected artists, Levon Helm, Bob Dylan, Al Green, B.B. King, and countless others.

Matt Zeiner (keyboard & vocals) began his career with Hartford’s Street Temperature band, then hit the road with Matt “Guitar” Murphy of Blues Brothers fame. Zeiner has also toured extensively with Dickey Betts, a founding member of the Allman Brothers Band.

Albert Rogers (bass, vocals) has shared the stage with Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, and played in The Jim Weider Band. Rogers has also performed with Sid McGinnis, Hubert Sumlin, Jimmy Vivino, Albert Lee and many others.

Tickets for The Weight Band at the Jane Pickens Theater & Event Center in Newport, RI on Thursday, August 25th at 8pm are $49-$69 and go on sale Friday, June 24th at 10am at www.janepickens.com or by calling 1-800-657-8774.

AL DI MEOLA

Al Di Meola 2020, fotografiert von Alexander Mertsch

Al Di Meola’s ongoing fascination with complex rhythmic syncopation, combined with provocative lyrical melodies and sophisticated harmony, has been at the heart of his music throughout a celebrated career that has spanned four decades and earned him critical accolades, three gold albums, and more than six million in record sales worldwide. A bona fide guitar hero, perennial poll-winner, and prolific composer, he has amassed over 20 albums as a leader, while collaborating on a dozen or so others with the likes of the fusion supergroup Return to Forever (with Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White), the celebrated acoustic Guitar Trio, featuring fellow virtuosos John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia, and the Rite of Strings trio, with bassist Clarke and violinist Jean-Luc Ponty. And while his dazzling technique on both acoustic and electric guitars has afforded him regal status among the hordes of fretboard fanatics who regularly flock to his concerts, the depth of Di Meola’s writing, along with the soulfulness and the inherent lyricism of his guitaristic expression, have won him legions of fans worldwide beyond the guitar aficionado set. 

A pioneer of blending world music and jazz, going back to early Latin-tinged fusion outings like 1976’s Land of the Midnight Sun, 1977’s Elegant Gypsy, and 1978’s Casino, the guitar great continues to explore the rich influence of flamenco, tango, Middle Eastern, Brazilian, and African music with his World Sinfonia, an ambitious pan-global group that he formed in 1991. Their exhilarating world music fusion has been documented on such releases as 2000’s The Grande Passion (featuring the Toronto Symphony Orchestra), 2007’s Live in London, 2011’s Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody, and the stunning 2012 DVD, Morocco Fantasia (recorded at the Mawazine Festival in Rabat, Morocco and featuring special guests Said Chraibi on oud, Abdellah Meri on violin and Tari Ben Ali on percussion). 

Growing up in Bergenfield, NJ with the music of Elvis Presley, The Ventures, and The Beatles, Di Meola naturally gravitated to guitar as a youngster, and was already an accomplished player by his early teens. Attaining such impressive skills at such a young age didn’t come easy for Al, but rather was the result of focused dedication and intensive periods of woodshedding between his junior and senior years in high school. “I used to practice the guitar eight to ten hours a day,” he told Down Beat. “And I was trying to find myself, or find the kind of music that suited where I was going with the guitar.”                      

In 1972, Al enrolled at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and by the second semester there began playing in a fusion quartet led by keyboardist Barry Miles. When a gig tape of that band was later passed on to Chick Corea by a friend of Al’s in 1974, the 19-year-old guitarist was tapped to join Corea’s fusion supergroup Return to Forever as a replacement for guitarist Bill Connors. 

After three landmark recordings with Return to Forever — 1974’s Where Have I Known You Before, 1975’s Grammy Award winning No Mystery and 1976’s Romantic Warrior — the group disbanded and Al subsequently started up his career as a solo artist. His 1976 debut as a leader, Land of the Midnight Sun, was a blazing showcase of his signature chops and Latin-tinged compositions that featured a stellar cast including drummers Steve Gadd and Lenny White, bassist Anthony Jackson and Jaco Pastorius, keyboardists Jan Hammer, Barry Miles and Chick Corea and percussionist Mingo Lewis. Over the course of six more albums with Columbia Records – Elegant Gypsy, Casino, Splendido Hotel, Electric Rendezvous, Tour De Force and Scenario – Al established himself as an influential force in contemporary music.

In early 1996, Di Meola formed a new trio with the violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and RTF bandmate Stanley Clarke called The Rite of Strings. Their self-titled debut was released in 1995. Di Meola subsequently recorded with the likes of opera superstar Luciano Pavarotti, pop stars Paul Simon, classical guitarist Manuel Barrueco, and Italian pop star Pino Daniele. Over the course of his career, he has also worked and recorded with Phil Collins, Carlos Santana, Steve Winwood, Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams, Herbie Hancock, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Milton Naciemento, Egberto Gismonti, Stevie Wonder, Les Paul, Jimmy Page, Steve Vai, Frank Zappa, and Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba.

While juggling acoustic tours in Europe and electric tours in the United States, Di Meola arrives at the perfect marriage of the two aesthetics on his latest album, 2015’s Elysium, which finds the guitar great blending the lush tones of his nylon string Conde Hermanos acoustic prototype model and a ’71 Les Paul electric (his Return to Forever and Elegant Gypsy axe) in a collection of songs that are at once invigorating and alluring. “It represents a new composition phase for me, whereby the writing became, in a sense, my therapy during a challenging personal transition in my life,” he said.  

Tickets for Al Di Meola at the Jane Pickens Theater & Event Center in Newport, RI on Friday, September 16th at 8pm are $59-$99 and go on sale Friday, June 24th at 10am at www.janepickens.com or by calling 1-800-657-8774.

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Ryan Belmore is the Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here - https://whatsupnewp.com/2021/09/letter-from-the-publisher-some-personal-news/

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at ryan@whatsupnewp.com and 401-662-1653.