Now Streaming: The Last White Stripes Show

The White Stripes

Southaven, Mississippi7/31/2007

By Ben Blackwell of Third Man Records, Archivist for The White Stripes

I can’t even tell you how much it means for me to be here tonight…so I’m not even gonna bother” 

-Jack White, July 31st, 2007

Not long after I walked offstage as the hired-gun drummer for opening act Dan Sartain, an assortment of crew and musicians and friends gathered together and took part in a celebratory, raise-the-glass toast, all led by Jack White to mark the end of the run of nine shows in the previous ten days. 

As the crowd thinned, Meg White and I were the last ones left standing there. Apropos of nothing, cups in hand, not even in a conversation at that point, Meg said to me, “I think this is the last White Stripes show.” Confused, I responded “Well, yeah, last show of this leg of the tour.” She replied “No…I think this is the last White Stripes show ever” and slowly walked away.

I was dumbfounded. I had no idea what she was talking about. I had no idea what she meant.  I had no idea what to do. I looked around to see if anyone else heard what Meg had said, but I was all alone.

Within minutes, the band was onstage.

What would YOU do if half of your favorite band told you (and ONLY you) it would be their last show immediately prior to taking the stage?

Shocked and having no better ideas, I went and grabbed two pieces of paper. One of them a perfunctory, public-facing schedule posted backstage. The other, more-detailed, sharing much of the same info and privately posted inside the band’s tour bus.

Just typing that makes me self-consciously feel like an ass…more preoccupied with the artifact and ephemera than focusing on the actual feeling of (and living in) the moment. Also, I should’ve at least made the effort to grab a damn camera.

I decamped to my usual side-stage perch and dutifully hand-wrote the scattershot songs that spilled out of Jack and Meg that evening. The White Stripes had never played Mississippi prior to this performance and it’s clear the deep musical heritage of the state loomed large in Jack’s mind as he attacked the performance setlist-free. 

“Stop Breaking Down” was an unexpected opening song. Despite being released in 1999, it had only opened a set once before, just three weeks earlier. The inspiration behind that first opening performance was the band headlining the Ottawa Bluesfest, being met with newspaper headlines that asked “Are the White Stripes bluesy enough to headline Bluesfest?” Seems as Jack’s intention of starting both these shows with the Robert Johnson classic was to leave no doubt to a skeptical homegrown audience of armchair connoisseurs or a lazy Canadian newspaper editor that the band was well-within their powers conveying the blues to the masses.  All that was only further buoyed by Jack later throwing in an unexpected tease of another Robert Johnson song “Phonograph Blues” to assuredly placate the ghosts of the Mississippi Delta.

Inspired, one-of-a-kind takes on both “As Ugly As I Seem” and “Astro” now jump out to me as beautiful…each song’s last hurrah from the band that birthed them. Exploratory adventures the both of them, proving that no piece was ever finished or finalized or etched into stone. Rather, they were all living, creative works, changing and adapting over the years and begging to be recorded and shared and analyzed by all of you reading this right now.

Jack began the encore by himself, pouring every last drop of feeling and emotive vocal quiver into a solo offering of “300 MPH Torrential Outpour Blues” that was achingly bare. The raw force behind it feels beyond naked…as if Jack had pulled back his own skin to reveal his truest, innermost thoughts, particularly when he changed the lyrics on the fly and sang…

See there’s three women in my mind that know they have the answer, but they’re not letting go…

What else is new? I’m the only one that seems to care where I should go”

After re-listening to this show for the first time in ages, I feel like only now have I fully absorbed the enormity of that line. Frankly, it just hit me like a freight train to the chest. I was caught entirely off-guard. I couldn’t help but be moved to tears. 

Moments like that make me feel this show is the audio manifestation of opposing, equally-powered forces clawing for control of my brain in an id-versus-ego battle of monumental proportions. On one end I’m mourning, absolutely fucking hurt that this huge presence in my life, my occasional reason for being, my family both by blood and by choice…just ceased to be. And yet at the other end, I am so goddamned lucky that the White Stripes ever existed at all…that people even paid attention, that the band was able to make a lucrative career out of their passion, out of art and that I had a side-stage seat to the entirety of their existence. 

These are feelings that have never reconciled themselves. I doubt they ever will.

After the completion of a bombastic, career-defining version of “Death Letter”, Jack poignantly says “Son House, thank you for finally letting me come home.” House was a passive participant in this matter, having died in the band’s hometown of Detroit in 1988. But Jack’s comment has seemingly little to do with any physical structure…what he is saying is that Son House (and to a larger extent, blues music in general) provided both he and Meg with an avenue to pursue their artistic vision. In this sense, home is not spoken in the predominant, noun usage of the word to describe where one lives, but rather in a more colloquial, adverbial sense meaning ‘deep, to the heart.’ 

In short, the blues is home. The blues provides comfort, the blues provides center, the blues provides foundation.  It provides a manner to express one’s feelings, both a connection to the past and a path through the future.

Ending the set with Leadbelly’s “Boll Weevil” and the singalong chorus repeating “he’s looking for a home” only further drives this point, well…home. The White Stripes were only able to become THE WHITE STRIPES because of the blues. Able to find their voices, to spread the word in a way that was seeming antithetical to two white kids born in Detroit in the 1970’s.  Blues was the language, not chosen, but seemingly divined, to best communicate themselves, to express, to converse, to paint this masterpiece. 

In that same way…we are all always looking for a home. For where we belong. Where we can be ourselves. Where we are free to do what we need to do. For a way to be.  For a conduit to something bigger.

Upon the completion of the set, with a backdrop of Who-like synth arpeggiations singing out into the night, Jack sincerely says the following…

“I can’t believe how long it has taken us to get here. Thanks for waiting. Thanks for coming. Thanks for buying our records. Thanks for buying a ticket. We love you very much. Thank you. God bless you Son House. God bless you Robert Johnson. Thank you so much.”

I can think of no better epilogue for Jack to punctuate the White Stripes last-ever live performance. Each thought a simple sentence that, upon closer inspection, opens up to a wider meaning…not just spoken to these folks in suburban Memphis on a Tuesday night. Rather, they speak to all their fans across the world. About the journey. About patience. About action. About appreciation. About presence. About gratitude. And ultimately, about the blues. Which is, arguably, all it was ever about.

In the intervening twelve years I’ve had countless conversations with Meg White. And I have never once, not for a moment, even considered asking her what was going through her head that night in Mississippi. To me, she has found her home and that is all that matters. 

New Archive Releases From The Allman Brothers Band Are Here

Our collection of shows from The Allman Brothers Band just got a whole lot sweeter. We’ve added a ton of new shows including performances from 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2014. This era of the Allman Brothers lineup included founding members Gregg Allman, Butch Trucks and Jaimoe along with percussionist Marc Quinones, guitarists Warren Haynes, and bassist Oteil Burbridge.

Most poignantly the lineup featured virtuoso slide guitarists Derek Trucks who is Butch Truck’s nephew. He originally joined with the group when he was a mere teenager. With Derek Trucks’ uncanny ability to reinterperate the late Duane Allman, Gregg Allman’s strong voice and Warren Haynes leading the way, this line up was truly the second coming of one of America’s greatest bands.

The energy of this era was explosive as the band hit a second peak in their career, with purpose, chemistry, and high on studio album releases which featured writing by not only the Allmans but also Oteil, Warren and Derek. Founding members Greg Allman, Butch Trucks and Jaimoe lead the band with their jazz infused classic southern blues. The jaw-dropping solos by Derek Trucks interplay perfectly with Warren Haynes tight rhythm guitar & sharp vocals, while soul-moving bass riffs by Oteil Burbridge create a deep foundation of funk n’ groove.

Greensky Bluegrass is Headed to Red Rocks

Greensky Bluegrass’ trio of Red Rocks shows this weekend promise to be some of their biggest performances of the year and we’re thrilled to be webcasting every moment on nugs.tv starting with tomorrow’s show. We’ll also have live coverage of Friday’s opening set featuring The Lil Smokies and Sunday’s Billy Strings performance.

This weekend will be the band’s first multi-night run since their own Camp Greensky festival which took place earlier this summer. If Camp Greensky was any indication, GSGB should have some fun surprises in store for us at Red Rocks. If you’re looking for a primer heading into this weekend’s webcasts, the Camp Greensky shows will be a great place to start.

Taking place in Wellston, MI, Camp Greensky 2019 featured sit-ins with Billy Strings, The Lil Smokies’ Jake Simpson, and tons more. The band also had some fun with the number two. Greensky Bluegrass mandolinist Paul Hoffman told us, “While we strive to make every show unique and special, maybe these ones are more special. We played two ‘two’ songs to celebrate our second year.” The first two-themed cover was Marvin Gaye & Kim Weston’s “It Takes Two” and was followed by Eddie Money’s iconic “Two Tickets To Paradise.”

Check out the Camp Greensky shows below and get ready for this weekend’s webcasts. We’ll see you at Red Rocks!


The Boss Homes Home

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Capitol Theatre, Passaic, NJ, September 19, 1978

By Erik Flannigan

Like all great live performers in rock history, Bruce Springsteen has been heavily bootlegged on vinyl and CD, and the five live radio broadcasts from the Darkness tour were manna for home tapers and bootleggers alike. Bruce acknowledged as much himself during the July 7, 1978 Roxy broadcast in Los Angeles (the city at the epicenter of the bootleg business) when he declared: “Bootleggers out there in radioland, roll your tapes!”

Those legendary transmissions began to appear on illicit wax the following year, 1979. Live in the Promised Land (Winterland, San Francisco, December 15, 1978) was first, followed by Piece De Resistance, which pressed the Passaic 9/19/78 radio broadcast to six hot sides of vinyl in a box set. Bootleg historians say Piece De Resistance is almost certainly the best-selling Springsteen title of all time, which makes sense given that the show aired in his biggest East Coast markets.

When Live/1975-85 was announced in 1986, many presumed the legendary Passaic broadcast would provide the bulk of the Darkness tour material, but in fact, nothing from the show made the box set. The Roxy and Winterland 12/16/78 proved to be the sources for all 1978 tracks featured on Live/1975-85.

The wait is finally over. Passaic 9/19/78 arrives in its glorious entirety, newly remixed by Jon Altschiler from multi-track, Plangent Processed master tapes. It offers a fresh take on the familiar broadcast version, crackling with energy and putting Bruce and the band so close you might reach out and try to touch the Big Man’s sax. It’s not a first-row seat; it is a first-row seat directly in front of the PA speakers.

Bruce is introduced with an exclamation: “The Boss comes home!” Indeed, this was a homecoming. The three Passaic dates were Springsteen’s first proper concerts in New Jersey since 1976, and the culmination of a NY-NJ Metroplex residency that included a trio of gigs at Madison Square Garden in August (his first-ever headlining the legendary arena) and three shows at the Palladium in the city just prior to Passaic. Following that introduction, it was off to the races.

“Badlands” bursts out of the gate, with more meaty guitars in the mix than we’ve heard before and Max’s drum rolls and trills snapping like someone lit a firecracker strip. Longtime fans will have heard the start of this show hundreds or maybe thousands of times before, but that familiarity coupled with the freshness of the mix makes for a thrilling listening experience. The sense of release “Badlands” delivers has never felt more tangible.

The first set features exemplary versions of core Darkness tracks “Streets of Fire,” “The Promised Land,” “Prove It All Night” with its tension-building instrumental intro, “Racing in the Street,” and the title track. We also get a preview of where Bruce is going next through “Independence Day,” played for only the fourth time in a still-evolving arrangement. The song was recorded for Darkness, and Bruce mentions it should end up on the next album. Another future River track, “Point Blank,” makes a spellbinding appearance in set two. 

Along with “Fire” and “Because the Night,” Passaic 9/19/78 features four Springsteen originals that were not released at the time. While we have come to take the live performance history of these songs for granted, Bruce is virtually alone in featuring so much unreleased music in his sets, and the inclusion of songs you can only hear at the shows was part of the magic that defined the live Springsteen legend.

The first set ends with a special and apropos “Meeting Across the River.” It is the live version I’ve heard the most and my all-time favorite performance of the song, sounding moody and marvelous as Bruce spins the tale accompanied by Roy Bittan and Garry Tallent. “Meeting” into “Jungleland” (as they are sequenced on Born to Run) to close the first set is the coup de grâce for 80 minutes of sheer perfection.

Bruce begins the second set with “one for all the folks in Philadelphia listening in,” “Kitty’s Back.” The resplendent E Street showcase cooks for 13 minutes and has not sounded this crystal clear since Sally left the alley. The same can be said for a stunning “Candy’s Room,” as Steve’s backing vocals soar — you can even pick out Clarence’s baritone voice in the left channel as Bruce sings “what…she…wants…is…me.”

Riches abound as we move through “Because the Night,” “Point Blank,” a long “Not Fade Away” into “She’s the One,” and a sublime, luscious “Backstreets” before the set closes with a pacey “Rosalita.” The encore slows down to mythologize the Shore with “Sandy,” and the moment when Bruce sings, “the boys from the casino dance with their shirts open,” then asks, “is that you out there?” is a charming reminder that Passaic 9/19/78 is indeed one for the locals.

Incredibly, the encore sustains and at times exceeds the energy level of the main set. “Born to Run” is taken at breathless full speed. “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out’ downshifts slightly in tempo, though Bruce remains fully committed to his wide-ranging vocal gymnastics. “Detroit Medley” presents one final opportunity to showcase the band’s chops (tune into the right channel for Stevie Van Zandt’s guitar lick masterclass) in a full-frontal rock ’n’ roll assault.

Because there always has to be one more, a final encore of Eddie Floyd’s soul classic “Raise Your Hand” closes the night, a lyrical reminder that Bruce and the band are there in service of the audience, be they inside the Capitol or listening at home in the markets Springsteen namechecks.

Though he couldn’t have known it at the time, 41 years later, Bruce gives us another chance to experience Passaic in the comfort of our own homes and marvel at the prowess of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band playing their hearts out for longtime fans.