FIRST ROUND: JONNY KAPLAN AND ABANDON JALOPY

The hottest gig week in the year started on Monday, with two acoustic sets I knew they weren’t to disappoint me: on one hand good vibes California suntanned hippie rider Jonny Kaplan, and on the other, the portable version of Abandon Jalopy, Brad Smith’s new project aside mighty Blind Melon, with Kevin Haaland. It’d be too obvious to say the show was a blast, but I have to.

You might think I’m crazy, but I was more excited with Abandon Jalopy’s show than with Blind Melon’s…I’ll explain why later.

On Monday, in front of barely 25 people, Jonny opened the evening with the only companion of his acoustic guitar, and sometimes the assistance of his harp. He introduced some songs to be included in his upcoming album, due to unknown date hopefully in 2012. As he put into words, he was looking for a set filled up with mellow tunes, thus, when I suggested Ride Free to be played on the encore, he said precisely that one was totally forbidden, in order not to break the vibe. Still, I couldn’t complain because he played Seasons right after my request, and said thanks to me at the end of the song! Should be ME thanking!

There were two remarkable moments during this show. On one hand a new beautiful song named The Child Is Gone, featuring Kevin and Brad of Abandon Jalopy, which was pretty intense and on the other hand, to realize that the story of Damaged was also my story. Good ol’ Jonny, another storyteller. I never get tired of him, and this time playing solo, was as solid as with a band. Kaplan is a rolling stone for real, so experienced and positive, he doesn’t need support of any sort to attract all our attention and conquer audiences. I can’t recall how many times I’ve seen him playing, probably 7 or 8, he’s always fantastic.

Second part of the show was pretty as short as amazing. Being in Spain prior to Blind Melon tour shows in our country, it was a good opportunity to advance and appetizer of what an Abandon Jalopy full band show might be in the future after the good reception of the beautiful album Death & Joy. Unfortunately those self labeled as Blind Melon diehard fans didn’t make it to the show on Monday, and it’s not acceptable to excuse saying the show was on Monday. It was a shame we were so few. Of course all the attendants were delighted with this set.

I Won’t Be The Same was the starter, with Shannon Hoon’s memory refreshed in our memories as, according to Brad, the song was inspired in his loss. Absolutely thrilling.

Brad Smith’s voice was stunning, and wonderful arrangements made by Haaland on guitar, sometimes including slide, made of this acoustic set something quite unique and special.

Up till Now, Love Has a Way, a cover of I Won’t Get Down, a revised version of Black Cloud, pretty cool actually, and 5 more songs, left us begging for more.

Forgetting an awkward moment caused by “someone” who gave Brad my former Blind Melon’s Soup vinyl for signing, right next to me (shit like that hurts and it’s lame), the aftershow was fantastic with the guys completely easy access. Kaplan is like an old friend you meet from time to time and everything is fun and easy, and I’m really happy after realizing how humble and adorable Brad Smith is. We were meeting at bars and streets for three days and he always spent some time having chats with me. As I said to him, I could get used to having them around. Wonderful people, both Kaplan and the Jalopy-Melons. I can’t wait to see them back in town.

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