Today we look back to December 27, 2007…

The Good Word from Hartford

Last night, The Word opened up its four show late-December run with a performance at the Webster Theatre in Hartford, Connecticut. The group, which consists of the North Mississippi Allstars along with Robert Randolph and John Medeski performed two sets of music, each of which lasted for 80 minutes. ‘Without God’ from The Word’s 2001 studio debut opened the night, after which the quintet offered up most of the songs from its lone release, including ‘Joyful Sounds,’ ‘Call Him By His Name’ and ‘I’ll Fly Away.’ As Luther Dickinson suggested in his recent site interview, the group also developed a number of jams around musical keys and also the work of artists such as James Brown and The White Stripes (‘7 Nation Army’). In addition, the band incorporated a cover of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Inner City Blues’ which began the second set, as well as Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Voodoo Chile’ which closed things out. The Word will appear in New York City this evening at Terminal 5.

Levon Helm’s Family and Friends Fest

This Sunday, Levon Helm will host a rare early evening show at his Woodstock, New York studio. ‘Levon’s Band Members’ Band Festival’ will draw together four groups with ties to Helm’s current project. Highlights include a set from Helm’s daughter Amy along with Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams (and one would imagine, the drummer himself) as well as an appearance from Steven Bernstein’s ‘Woodstock Mob’ featuring John Medeski, Briggan Krauss, Tony Scherr and Ben Perowsky. The Brian Mitchell Band and Mike & Mharlyn Merritt will round out the evening’s line-up. Helm, who has been nominated for a Grammy for his Dirt Farmer release, is expected to be in Los Angeles on February 10 to receive a Lifetime Achievement Grammy with The Band.

The New Mastersounds Re:Mixed, Returning to U.S.

The New Mastersounds will cross the Atlantic next month for a series of January dates. The U.K. funk group will start things off in Petaluma, CA on January 9 with a performance at the Mystic Theater. The band will then gig through January 20, wrapping up its tour at Telluride’s Sheridan Opera House. The New Mastersounds will back in the U.S. two months later for some additional shows, including a Langerado appearance. Earlier this fall, the group released its Re:Mixed disc, which features participation from Nostalgia 77, Corinne Bailey Rae, King Kenny Dope, Lack Of Afro, Ju Ju Orchestra and many others.

Farewell To Hobex

In December 2002, longtime staffer Jefferson Waful profiled Hobex as our New Groove of the Month. Five years later, the band has announced that next week it will perform its final show for the foreseeable future. Hobex has confirmed that following its New Year’s Eve performance at the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro NC, it will step back from touring. The band’s Greg Humphreys explains, ‘This is not to say that we won’t be playing any more gigs – in fact, we hope to play some festivals in ’08. We may very well re-appear as a touring band in the future under different circumstances. For now though, this is a decision we’ve had to make. Although we have had a great sixty gig tour in ’07 in support of Enlightened Soul, the past few years have been tight financially. Its just become too difficult to keep the band rolling as a full-time effort. We do get to play firing-on-all-pistons shows for great crowds, and don’t think that we are not very appreciative of that fact! Unfortunately, the percentage of our shows that are like this has not been sufficient to continue. That is hard to admit because I’m a stubborn son-of-a-gun.’ In addition, the group will perform on Friday at Rafters in St. Simons Island, GA and will open for MOFRO on Saturday night at Freebird Live in Jacksonville, FL.

Jeff Sipe Trio Remains Bohemian

Jeff ‘Apt Q258’ Sipe will continue performing with Keller Williams, Keith Moseley and Gibb Droll in the WMD’s throughout 2008. In addition, however, he also will continue a steady stream of gigs with his own Jeff Sipe Trio. This group also features Austrian guitarist Alex Machacek and Matthew Garrison (John McLaughlin) on bass. As we have reported, the three will be part of the 4th Annual Mountain Music Family Circus at the Grey Eagle Music Hall in Asheville, NC. The Trio will then continue a series of steady gigs at the Bohemian Cafe in Greenville, South Carolina with shows now confirmed for January 11, February 15, March 18 and March 25.