Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Vernon Reid - blog

If you haven't noticed, Vernon Reid is on tour w/ Masque in Europe and is "blogging". Click the title/link to see whats going on during this winter 2006 European Masque tour.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Behind the masks

Vernon Reid's music defies easy categorization

By Darrell Jónsson
For The Prague Post
February 15, 2006

Vernon Reid knows how to cure any notion of solo jazz guitar sounding lame: grab the axe by the neck, dip it in a heavy-metal bitches' brew, take it on a power-chord hip-hop trip around the third stone from the sun and bring it back to earth with a few long, cello-like sustained notes. Other aspects of Vernon Reid & Masque's sound are not impossible to describe, but they're not simple.

"Usually [in music] you are in one bag or another," says Reid, speaking to The Prague Post last week from his hotel in Munich. "If you're doing a sort of a jazz-pop thing, then all your melodies are accessible and easy to take and everything is a medium tempo. Or if you're trying to prove to everyone you can play really fast — tadatadata! Or perhaps you are a prog [rock] guy, and everything is going to be obscure and really not as tuneful. I just refuse those bags. I just let the music move me and the band, and we take it wherever we're going."

The "wherever" that Reid & Masque explore includes a challenging juxtaposition of musical forms. It's no wonder that Reid admires the Surrealists, who he says were "flipping the rules ... and using language and art to do it."

Flipping musical rules and genres comes naturally to Reid, who had an equally diversified upbringing: Born in London to Caribbean parents, he was raised in New York City. In the early '80s, Reid co-founded the Black Rock Coalition to present and encourage convention-defying black artists. He extended that goal with his genre-bending, perception-challenging group Living Colour, which had numerous Billboard-charting hits and won two Grammy awards. In his ongoing solo career, Reid has worked with Carlos Santana, Jack Bruce and James Blood Ulmer, and landed himself (a debatably underrated) 66th place in Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.

Vernon Reid & Masque's recent release Other True Self, on Stevie Vai's Favored Nations label, continues a theme that Reid started back in the '80s. "With Living Colour, even the name implies an identity thing," he says. "Masque is almost [the identity concept] flipped around — I'm examining whethe or not identity can be a trap. There is a thin line between racial pride, and then chauvinism and prejudice. I'm not ashamed of where I'm from; I'm very proud of it. But I also know it can be used to separate me from people and can be used to separate me from love of all different types. That really is where Masque is coming from."

With Masque's current work, Reid continues to take bold steps across the fusion and fissures of rock, hip-hop, blues and free-form while also referencing ambient, West African and Caribbean styles. On Masque's 2005 release, Known Unknown, there's a punk spin on Thelonius Monk's "Brilliant Corners" as well as a new read on Lee Morgan's "Sidewinder." Masque's latest release and live sets include Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence," Tony Williams' "Wild Life" and Radiohead's "National Anthem." These, along with Masque originals like "Game is Rigged," "White Face" and "Overcoming," carry musical ideas that Reid says "relate to where we live now."

The music of Vernon Reid & Masque is definitely not easy listening, but the experience is ultimately fun and certainly interesting. At the Akropolis show, rock, blues, jazz and heavy metal fans can all expect a few intense moments as Reid and crew put on and strip off their musical masks.

Darrell Jónsson can be reached at

Friday, February 17, 2006

No Brocolli : Brain-metal only puzzling when it covers axman's noggin

by George Smith

Unfurling with a skirl of shred, Vernon Reid & Masque's Other True Self launches into "Game Is Rigged." Then the guitar chomps start, ferocious as death metal, but it's possible to dance and bob your head. Next, the Hammond B3 and ax duel on a smoking booze-and-blooz riff, and it's still the same track.

With no vocals to crap it up, Reid's made an album that wanders far and wide, all of it linked by his very mean-sounding instrument. The threadbare meme that this is sophisticated hard rock, so you should like it because your noggin needs sonic broccoli, could be deployed. But better to leave that to the people who write about NeurIsis bands or New Age black-metal groups employing women singers to moan like the wind in the background.

If it's puzzlement and brain-stretching you need, be satisfied with Reid's hat, which looks good on him on the cover and in no way diminishes the album's start-to-finish funk. It's a fine trick because the Masque musos jam their grease into a prog amalgam of jazz and the occasional reggae beat, alternately soaring then chopping riffage. A Depeche Mode cover, "Enjoy the Silence," airs chiming octaved guitar in a bluesy then joyous motif, spiced by an oddball whammy bar effect that makes the CD sound like it's changing speed. And just when it seems like everything remotely possible has been wrung from the tune, the man on six-string delivers a forearm smash for good measure at the finish.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Vernon Reid / Masque European Winter Tour 2006

FEB-09 PORRETTA/Bologna(I) - Kursaal
FEB-10 WINTERTHUR(CH) - Salzhaus
FEB-11 DORTMUND(D) - Domizil
FEB-12 HELMOND(NL) - Plato
FEB-14 VIENNA(A) - Porgy
FEB-15 BRNO(CZ) - Theater
FEB-16 USTI NAD LABEM(CZ) - Narodni Dum
FEB-18 INNSBRUCK(A) - Treibhaus
FEB-19 PRAGUE(CZ) - Palac Akropolis
FEB-20 KATOVICE(PL) - Andaluzja Osrodek Kultury
FEB-21 MARIBOR(SLO) - Narodi Dom Maribor
FEB-23 WARSCHAU(PL) - Fabrika
FEB-24 GÖRLITZ(D) - Vierradenmühle
FEB-25 DRESDEN(D) - Tante Ju
FEB-26 SALZBURG(A) - Jazzit
FEB-27 BERLIN(D) - Garbaty
FEB-28 HALLE(D) - Objekt 5
more info to follow, please check dates, times, and venue to confirm

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Masque venue change tonight - stay tuned

according to pino from the SG board...
The concert venue has changed February 8th to Alpheus Via del Commercio .

We'll try to get more info soon and keep you posted.
thank you pino!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Doug Wimbish chat @

Click link to listen or d/l Doug's chat from the rockhousemethod chat in January

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Tomorrow the World

World Café Live aims for the stars and goes hi-def.

by A.D. Amorosi

Set against boom mics and a brighter-than-usual lighting schematic, Living Colour hit World Café Live with the dizzying ferocity of kids on Ritalin—giddy, rowdy, fast. Maybe they're just happy to be here. Or maybe it's because they're on television...

(click title/link for rest of story and a few Living Colour pics)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

National and Local Artists to Honor Musical Legend, Chris Whitley


CONTACT: CORINNE TAMES: (713) 582-0175

National and Local Artists to Honor Musical Legend, Chris Whitley.

Two all-star concerts in Houston and Austin benefiting the Whitley estate.

Saturday, March 4, 2006 – The Glenn in Austin, Texas

Sunday, March 5, 2006 – Warehouse Live in Houston, Texas

Legendary singer-songwriter/guitarist, 45 year old, Chris Whitley died of lung cancer on November 20th at a friend's home near Houston. Chris leaves behind a younger brother Dan and daughter, Trixie. Two tribute concerts for Whitley will take place in Austin and Houston. Proceeds will in part benefit a trust fund for Trixie Whitley. “My brother was all about life and living, and we want anybody who felt touched by him or his music to come and be welcome,” says Dan Whitley.

A man of rare poetic honesty, Chris Whitley maintained a resolute musical integrity throughout his career. His 12 albums, ranging from raw-boned folk-rock to lush electro-blues, had the thread of intense emotion and constant invention running through them.

Chris Whitley's debut LP, Living With the Law, was released by Columbia Records in 1991 and was received with critical acclaim. Chris’ Soft Dangerous Shores, (Messenger) came out in July 2005. Both discs now seem like spiritual/aesthetic book-ends, mixing roots-rock grit with heat-haze atmospherics. Chris Whitley’s final recording, Reiter In, will be released in Europe on February 28th (Downtown) and in North America on March 28th (Red Parlor).

In the Houston area, an incredible night of music will take place at Warehouse Live on Sunday, March 5. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m., with the show starting at 7:30 p.m. Current artists to perform include Shawn Colvin, Charlie Sexton, Vernon Reid, DJ Logic, Doug Pinnick, the Sonnier Brothers, the Dan Whitley Band, John Egan, Arthur Yoria and NDUGU. Warehouse Live is located at 813 St. Emmanual Street, Houston, Texas. Advance tickets are $20 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster-

In Austin, the show will be held at The Glenn on Saturday, March 4, with the same lineup, but will also include Eric Johnson, Malford Milligan, Steve Barber, Bill Maddox, the Tosca Girls string ensemble and more. The Glenn is located at 13101 Hwy 71 in West Austin by The Backyard. Tickets are $20 in advance and can be purchased through Get Tix-

A raffle will be held at each event featuring special autographed items. Also be on the lookout for surprise guest appearances. All proceeds go to cover medical expenses for Chris’s care and to establish a Trust Fund for his daughter, Trixie Whitley.

A special thank you to The Raven Grill for their generous donations toward making this show happen. For more information, contact Corinne Tames at (713) 582-0175 or Also check out