Blackness at the Edge of Night

Daniel Lanois's Black Dub
Webster Hall, NYC

Brian Blade is God! (Nod to Mr. Clapton's graffitti homage.) If there is a better drummer on the planet playing with a better touring band, I want to know about it right now. Last night at Webster Hall, Black Dub killed it. They wiped the floor of any and all bands playing any borough of New York City on this particular evening. And believe me, there was plenty of competition. But as we all know, competition for an audience's attention tends to bring out the best in musicians. And Lanois's insanely tight quartet was more than up to that task and at the peak of its collective prowess.

Back to Mr. Blade. It was during the transcendant version of "Ring the Alarm" -- off of the debut (watch live studio version below) -- that I flashed on a "what if." Besides being one of the greatest drum performances I've ever witnessed live -- and I've seen and played at least a thousand shows in every musical genre -- I was rendered speechless. His shoulders didn't move. He was all wrists and hands, a blur of activity that pushed time to a fourth dimension and then brought it back to our spacial place and time. Lanois looked as blown away as I was. And he gets to play with him every night.

But "what if..." What if Miles Davis were alive and gigging? Would he have snatched the aforementioned drummer knowing that he was heir to the Tony Williams, Jack DeJohnette, Lenny White legacy? Sure. I mean, Blade has done time with some heavies -- Wayne Shorter (a member of his quarter since 2000), Bill Frisell, Joni Mitchell, Dylan, and Mr. Lanois, to name but a few. On this particular night he could have replaced both Jack and Lenny on Bitches Brew. No doubt Mr. Shorter, who played on that seminal jazz fusion record, feels the same way. And one need only watch this Louisiana-born native live to grasp his superman jazz/roots-rock/funk/pop time-keeping chops.

If you follow my blog, you'll remember that I gushed about this band in November at their Bowery Ballroom show. I don't need to recap their set from last night, as it was nearly the same set as in November but even more dynamic. No doubt a product of playing together for the past eight months. And I was a bit harsh on my critique of their debut album, but damn if they don't extrapolate their songs in concert. It's like the epicenter of a detonated neutron bomb. The beauty of the silence in the space of each song that surrounds the explosion of sound from the instruments, harmony vocals included, that all four of these Black Dub warriors share with their audience is life changing.

Go see them now. Get right with God. - Dusty Wright

Black Dub - Black Dub


Mr. Wright is the former editor-in-chief of Creem and Prince's New Power Generation magazines as well as a writer of films, fiction, and music. He is also a singer/songwriter who has released 4 solo CDs, and a member of the folk-rock quartet GIANTfingers. And before all of this he was a William Morris agent.

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Black Dub/Brian Blade and Drummers

Hola, Dusty!!

Been following your site for a while - my coworker is a guy by the name of Steve McAbee. Apparently you knew him in a different life - apparently college????!!! I shall refrain from using your real name or any reference to the drunken night involving midgets and a trapeze. Although it sounds like you're very flexible...

First of all, cool video of Black Dub and 'Ring the Alarm'. Very different sound and I'm all about that. Great percussion work, and music is a huge part of my life. I'm a drummer in a couple of bands, and any band that pushes the envelope is headed in the right direction. If your not moving forward, you're falling behind.

You mention in your blog the wondering if there was 'a better touring drummer and band' - which is a bit subjective. I've been following Black Country Communion and have been very impressed with Jason Bonham's drum work... I was also afforded the honor of meeting Jason and he seems extremely well adjusted considering he has probably been constantly questioned about his percussion pedigree. When your father is John Bonham, you have some very large shoes to fill, but he has managed to merge his father's ample right foot with a progressive sense of timing and lilt notes. I've really enjoyed their shows and the diversity that's in each one.

I've also been checking out a local band (well, SORTA local) called Healing Sixes - out of Indianapolis. Jason actually recorded some stuff with them a few years back, but they are CERTAINLY worthy of a listen. If you're into a blues based band, these guys are worth your time. Check out 'Show Me Something Good'.... VERY cool... And their current drummer, Wade Parish, is no slouch. The guitarist/singer Doug Henthorn has actually done some work with Joe Bonamassa.

Anything you could do for the Healing Sixes crew would be AWESOME. They deserve it - they love playing, and they love playing TOGETHER. Their shows are fun, tight and loose at the same time. I'd love to see them get the recognition they deserve.



BCC is "big" rock and roll. But they're not breaking new ground like Radiohead. Yes, they are monstrous players, but...

So hard to take rock into new places. That's why Black Dub works. It's about how less is more. How the space in the music creates a tension of sounds that is evocative and nourishing. And Lanois' approach to his Les Paul is more in line with Neil Young than Jimmy Page.

Healing Sixes is a little more my style. Reminds me of Masters of Realty when Ginger Baker was there drummer. Check out this video of them back in '91.

HS guitarists playing a double lap steel who looks like a skinny Warren H. is cool. End of Always is cool video, too. And how did they convince Jason Bonham to play with them?

Reminds me of the night that drummer Victor Jones (Miles Davis, Mike Stern) sat in with us at The Underground.