Nels Cline and Mike Watt join Eric McFadden and Melt the Mint – 1/16/13

Words by Aaron Fortin and Wesley Hodges

*Download or stream the show courtesy of MacDaddy at Thank you tapers!

Last night as part of Eric McFadden’s month-long, five-show Wednesday Residency @MintLA, Guitar God Nels Cline (Wilco) and bassist Mike Watt (Banyan/Minutemen/Stooges) joined in alongside Seth Ford-Young (bassist – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros / Tom Waits), drummer Curt Bisquera and Abby Travis (Beck/Bangles/Eagles of Death Metal) for a little rock and roll-post-punk-psych-jazz-awesomeness.

The show took a little while to get to the stratospheric proportions it would achieve in the second set and began with a brief solo mini-set by the Mint resident. McFadden showed a great deal of stylistic range and a quiksilver style of playing seldom heard on a classical guitar. Although no nylon strings were harmed in the performance, EMAC sure tried. After a heavy and poignant cover of Vic Chesnutt’s “Blight”, Nels Cline and his randomly-strewn pedal setup made its way onto stage the night completely blasted off.

It should be noted that the night’s constants were McFadden and drummer Curt Bisquera, a dynamic duo who managed to lock down the sound like a well-traveled / touring band, despite constant lineup changes throughout the show. MINTMikeWattMcFadden Mike Watt joined the fray at the beginning of the second set and basically stole the show, entering the stage with a thunderous swagger, throwing down the proverbial gauntlet and pretty much vanishing from the scene in a flash – exiting mid-set in true rocker fashion. Nels and Watt’s history of playing together in Banyan certainly helped make their chemistry a veritable force to behold, especially when the band busted into the gargantuan “Maggot Brain” (Nels Cline would later tell us the last time he performed it was with McFadden a couple years back at High Sierra). On the list of songs we’d like to see Nels Cline cover in person, the classic Funkadelic tune lists pretty damn high and McFadden, Bisquera, Ford-Young and Nels absolutely torched it, infusing the post-1 am crowd with a palpable, visceral energy (accompanied by apropos visuals on-stage by live painter Norton Wisdom).

Everyone who stayed for the encore had to pick their melted faces from the Mint floor. Everyone we spoke to acknowledged that this was a one-off to remember and luckily there were plenty of cameras and multiple taping sources to document this special night of live music. The Funkadelic cover is top-shelf/a must-hear so be sure to check out the stream link up top!


During the show painter Norton Wisdom offered a visual feast for the eyes, live painting several brilliant and ephemeral (i.e. wiped clean upon completion) pieces throughout the four-hour show. You’ve never seen live concert painting quite like this! Oh, and Jason Hann was in attendance as well as three members of Trampled By Turtles who had just taped a performance on Conan O’Brien. Random, but awesome. Only in LA!

Norton Wisdom Live Paints @MintLA. Photo by Wesley Hodges
Norton Wisdom Live Paints @MintLA. Photo by Wesley Hodges

Here are some of Wesley Hodges photos from one of the best second sets I’ve seen at the Mint in a long time!