Sunday, August 21, 2016

Golden Gate Wingmen - Brighton Music Hall - 2016-08-13

    The Dead & Company tour may be over, but there’s still plenty of Grateful Dead music being played!  This past Saturday my parents and I went back to the Brighton Music Hall to see John Kadlecik, but in a different band.  This was the Golden Gate Wingmen, who we saw in the same place last summer, and it is made up of John, Jeff Chimenti, Jay Lane on drums, and Reed Mathis on bass.  They play a lot of non-Dead songs, but can be put in the same category as JRAD; if you’re the kind of person who puts labels on things, mannnn.

    The show wasn’t quite sold out, but there was still a lot of people in the dance hall, and I think Jeff Chimenti might be more responsible for that than anyone else.  The other musicians are obviously big draws themselves, all having played in various band including ones with Grateful Dead members, but Jeff has been in the most Dead bands and is the least divisive among fans.  I actually ran into John and Jeff in the smoking area out back (and I didn’t pass out of freak out at them), and after a bit someone asked Jeff, “What’s it like playing with John Mayer, did you finally dose him?,” at which point Kadlecik kind of rolled his eyes and went inside and Jeff shrugged the question off.  Maybe John has some hard feelings about there being a new guitar-John on the Dead scene, but I think probably not.
    The show got a bit of a late start, but we were all ready to dance all night, so we weren’t bothered!  We were dead center, just a couple people back from the stage, so we had great view and sound.  For whatever reason, there’s a soundboard of the show available here, which is awesome!

First Set
  • Nobody Told Me
    • We had seen John do this a few months ago with his JK Band, but we could already tell that this show was going to be a lot better.
    • John really sings and plays Lennon songs so well, and the rest of the band was already playing like mad men.  Reed Mathis plays bass like no one else, feeling more than comfortable just sitting on two notes for a whole song, but liable to slip into an incredible lead at any point.  Besides his regular bass playing, he also has a filter that makes his bass play two octaves at once, so he sounds like an electric guitar and a bass playing together, which is mind blowing.
    • Jay Lane, of Furthur, Ratdog, and Primus fame, was playing way better than I remember him playing last year, augmenting the rhythms and timings of all the songs they played, but staying right with the other musicians.  It’s a very Furthur-esque way of playing, which makes sense with three members of that band.
  • Brown-Eyed Woman
    • Another one we had just seen John do, but this was again worlds apart from that version.
    • This one was played so ferociously, with John, Jeff, and Reed exchanging the most blistering solos, while Jay played with and deconstructed the beat below them.
    • I always think of the 11/11/11 Furthur performance of this song as the gold standard, and I think this one might actually have been better, but it’s truly hard to say.
    • They took a small tuning break and make some Yellow Submarine jokes.
  • Seen Love
    • Three in a row that John played last time he was in Brighton, but three in a row that were better performances!
    • This song mostly has an undulating reggae-esque feel, but this band took the jams way out there.  They got into some truly deep space, getting close to a kind of “King Solomon’s Marbles” feel, then ditching that for some pure, jammy goodness.
    • I don’t want to get too into this now because I already have a post in the works somewhat devoted to this very topic, but John K can get to those formless spaces so much easier than certain other guitarists in the Dead world.
  • Just Like a Woman
    • Reed asked how we were all doing, and got a much bigger thrill out of our response than he expected, so asked if we could do it again.  I hadn’t seen him out in the smoking area, but he was definitely in some kind of State of Mind.
    • Reed’s first vocal lead of the night, with John singing all the other songs.  Reed has such a beautiful voice, very folksy while also sounding a bit like alternative rock.
    • He and Jay were the main forces behind the heavy syncopation that was present in a lot of these songs, and John and Jeff never lost a beat, playing their solos over the breakdowns and coming back to the regular rhythm all together.
    • Jeff got a literal solo in this song when Reed told the rest of the band to cut out and shushed the crowd, leading into a breathtaking lead from John.
  • Lazy River Road
    • Not my favorite Dead song, but I like it a lot better than plenty of others, and it gave the band room for more mellow, harmonic solos.
    • This is also a great song for John’s voice, which is not the most refined voice, but is still very nice and emotive.
  • Givin’ Me The Business
    • This is from the album that John made with Melvin Seals (of the JGB), American Spring, and besides the chorus being a serious case of questionable phrasing (givin’ me the business, in my own backyard) it’s a great song.
    • It’s got a harder vibe to it, kind of like a mix between “After Midnight” and “Me & My Uncle.”
    • They rocked through the jam section with everyone, including Jay, getting solos, before briefly rocketing into unknown, feedbacky territory.
  • Loser
    • One of the highlights of the show, and like with “Brown-Eyed Women,” it passed the 11/11/11 test.
    • A great intro jam to this one, with Reed and John teasing the main riff, but taking their time actually getting into the song, sometimes getting close to a “Spanish Jam” feeling.
    • Reed repeated the “cup of cold coffee” verse, but acknowledged it by singing “I told ya twice.”
    • The solo to this “Loser” has got to be one of the best pieces of music there is, it’s just so heart wrenching and haunting, while also being a perfect platform for blistering rock and roll.
  • Feel Like Dynamite
    • Super funky, this one got everyone dancing!
    • Again, this band is so good on just turning on a dime and going of on a jam that’s almost totally divorced from the song they were playing.  It’s different from how Furthur did it in that this is a lot more democratic, whereas Bobby and Phil (mostly Phil) were always the chief deciding factors in what direction a song or jam would take.  These guys have the classic non-leader vibe going on, with each of them stepping up to lead the band only when it was right, and no clash of egos at all.

    They closed out the set with big smiles and loud cheers from us.  They were all found in the smoking area during break, but not a lot of us stayed out there as the rain and thunder started to roll in.  During the first set, Jeff had removed the top of his Rhodes piano and had been repairing it while he was playing it, which is impressive!  He had some feedback issues with it, but folded up some pieces of paper and fiddled around with a needle or something, and soon had it in working order.  He had that Rhodes and an organ, neither of which I think we’ve seen him play, and both sounded great.  Not only that, but Jeff was the real hero of the show, playing those instruments like no one else in the world can.  You could even say he showed us his power...

    A short setbreak, I think mostly because of the rain outside driving everyone in.  There was then a good amount of smoking and vaping going on in the venue, which no one complained about.  The Cool Mom next to me kept telling her teenage son he should feel free to start smoking and he pretended not to know who she was.  The band came back out on stage with illegal smiles, and we were off into the second set!
Second Set (* w/ Todd Stoops)
  • She Belongs to Me
    • Another great Dylan song, this time sung (very well) by John.
    • The Dead killed this one when they played it, even later in Jerry’s life, but this one was a version for the ages too.  A lot peppier than when the Dead did it.
    • Reed’s been working on a project called Electric Beethoven, which is basically a reworking of Beethoven’s classics in a 21st Century Acid Rock kind of way, and some of his solos in the second set had a more classical and elemental feel to them than other leads he played.
    • Jeff’s Rhodes had some feedback issues at the beginning of this set, but he got that baby working again.  Some banter from the band while they fixed it, Jeff complaining that it’s always his fault...
  • Golden Wings
    • I’m kind of embarrassed I didn’t recognize this song when they played it; it’s got (kind of) the name of the band in it!
    • More great vocals from John here, and some great “wooshing” noises from Jay on his microphone…
    • Once again, they took a relatively simple jam and took it out back and beat it with a  tire iron until it told them all of its secrets.
    • Reed started hinting at, and then full on playing, the “Estimated Prophet” rhythm, and they were about to really commit to it when they all kind of had a chat, then went back into “Join Together.”  The reason why would soon be clear…
    • John switched on his MIDI filter and started playing what sounded exactly like a grand piano, and it went great with Jeff’s Rhodes.  Again, hints of what was to come.
  • Dark Star >
    • Another one you could have called it “Jam > Dark Star,” but we all know how I feel about that.  John and Reed kind of gave the song away (or intentionally hinted at it) on the intro jam, and I totally called that shit.
    • A really heavy “Dark Star,” with a relentless jam on the way in.  Reed went from complicated multi-octave leads to the most minimalist bass playing he did all night, just thumping away on the downbeats while John and Jeff screeched into the stratosphere and Jay pummeled his drum kit.
    • They finally did the opening “Dark Star” riff, toyed with the main theme for a bit, dove into the first verse, and then drifted back into space.
  • Join Together >
    • I didn’t realize this was a The Who song, I always just categorized it as another generic classic rock radio song that wasn’t actually written by anyone.
    • This song has a triumphant, victorious feel to it that John really does well.
    • Not surprisingly, they jammed this song out a lot more than The Who ever did.
    • No one plays the organ quite like Jeff Chimenti, he’s truly a master of the art.  I could listen to him play that thing all day everyday, and never get bored.
  • Dark Star * >
    • They went into a serious meltdown jam on the way back into this song, then suddenly snapped together to do the final verse.
    • John sang both verses of the song, and he did it great, but I was hoping they trade the verses and Jeff and Reed would each get one.
    • John got on his MuTron and started womping about, until they finally decided it was time to play “Estimated.”
    • On the way there, a roadie brought another bench out and put it next to Jeff, then Todd Stoops came out on stage!
  • Estimated Prophet * >
    • They must have promised Todd they wouldn’t do this one without him, and he was indeed a great addition.  He had impressed us back with the JK Band, but he really stepped up his playing for this band.  He and Jeff really blended well together, and Jeff of course has experience playing with other keyboardists in Dead bands.
    • We had hoped Reed would sing this one, and he exceeded our expectations.  His drawn-out voice is perfect for the “Estimated” character and his lonely insistence that he knows the way.
    • Reed and Jay really funked this one up with their telepathic syncopations.
    • The outro jam started to build up from the uncertain dissonance they had reached to a brighter climax, and we all knew where they were headed...
  • Eyes of the World * >
    • This had been at the top of my list for songs I wanted to see the band do this time, so I was of course thrilled, especially once John took off on a stellar intro lead once they had established the song’s beat.
    • Jeff and Todd both got solos that they shared with John in the body of the song.  John also threw in some of what sounded like teases at TLC’s “Waterfalls,” which was fun and unexpected!
    • Todd did some singing, which didn’t mesh too well with the rest of the band to my ears, but definitely not the worst singing I’ve heard from a Dead band.
    • As with pretty much everything these guys played, this was a lot faster than the Dead & Company versions we had heard lately.
    • They kind of broke down to just drums and a mellow jam while welcoming Todd back off the stage, then built the jam back up and made the surprising transition to...
  • Touch of Grey
    • After this song Jay was raving about how they gave it a ska rhythm, and he was really excited about it!  It didn’t make the biggest difference to the song, but it did make it stand out from other versions I’ve seen, and was a nice touch (ha).

  • Liberty
    • One of my favorite nineties songs from the Dead, so glad to get it!  John sings it so well, too.

    Well that’s the show!  I highly recommend you all go out and see this band if you get the chance.  They’re all excellent musicians, and the music is of the highest quality, but there’s none of the pressure or angst that can come with bigger concerts in bigger venues.  Like JRAD, these guys have taken the Grateful Dead catalogue and tradition and stood them on their heads while simultaneously still honoring them.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Dave's Picks 19 (1970-01-23 & 24)

     Once again Dave Lemieux has deemed another show (and a half) worthy of being Picked.  He's got a great track record so far, and Dave's Picks 19 continues his winning streak.  It is from the band's trip to Hawaii in January of 1970, and features two of TC's final shows.  The show on the 23rd is one I've had for a few years that I fell in love with at first listen, but haven't heard in a while, so it's great to have it in (mostly) pristine quality, mastered once again by Jeffrey Norman.  The 24th was one I was less familiar with, which of course is always more exciting for an official release.  In Dave's Seaside Chat he points out that they are missing most of this show, but what they do have is great, so it makes sense to fill out DaP 19 with this third disc.

     This is the third Dave's Picks from this era, with DaP 6 featuring shows from December of 1969 and February of 1970, and DaP 10 featuring another show from December 1969.  While I think Dave should maybe branch out a little more, I haven't been disappointed by any of his releases yet, so I trust all of his choices at this point.  This one isn't necessarily the best of the series, with some songs feeling pretty standard, as opposed to other Picks where every song is a standout version.  That having been said, the highlights of this show make it more than worth listening to, so it all equals out.  So let's dive in, and feel free to leave your own opinions in the comment section below!

A terrapin riding a surfboard near a mountainous tropical island, with the sun on the horizon

January 23, 1970
  • China Cat Sunflower >
    • A great early version of this pairing of songs, possibly the best from this era.
    • It's an unusual song to open with, but the band jumps right in and are immediately on the same wavelength (maybe a bad pun about surfing?).
    • As well all know, this was a transitional period for the band.  They were working on Workingman's Dead and their new countrified sound while still playing a lot of Primal Dead music.  They still had that raw, thriving sound, but were getting better at mellowing into slower grooves and playing more basic songs.  This "China > Rider" is a perfect example of their transitioning sound totally working; if you think about it, "China > Rider" as a pairing is kind of symbolic of this mix of pure psychedelia moving into a sprawling country sentimentality.
    • Bobby's solo on the way out of "China Cat" isn't as fully developed as it would get as the first half of the seventies progressed, but it's still excellent.  This is one of the best things about these early releases, you can hear what start as little hints or teases at ideas that eventually turn into full on staples of these classic songs.
  • I Know You Rider
    • While I prefer these seventies versions of this song, one benefit to the eighties and nineties ones is they went through the solo sections more times, giving the song room to build and build.  This one, like most others until after the hiatus, feels a little strangled.  The band is playing so well and with so much energy that it just doesn't seem natural for the solos to be so short-lived.
    • I loved TC in DaP 10, and I think he's just as good here, if a little softer in the mix.  His playing is part of what makes this particular point in the band's transition so interesting, he acts as a tether to the psychedelic spaces they were reaching the year before, while simultaneously helping the band develop the new direction they were moving in.
    • Phil does a descending vocal line on the final verse that catches me off guard each time I listened to it, but I really love it.
  • Black Peter
    •  Unlike the later sixties versions of this song, here in 1970 it is already in its final form.  It still sounds kind of raw, and of course it feels different with different keyboardists, but it has all of the recognizable parts that are found in the song for the rest of its lifespan.
    • Besides the raw sound I mentioned, you wouldn't know that this was a relatively new song in this band's repertoire from the way they play it.  The whole band knows where the changes and twists are, and there are no hiccups or hesitations.
  • Yellow Dog Story
    • Jerry broke his string and had to fix it, on account of he broke it, so Bobby took this as an opportunity to tell a story.
    • One of the better takes of this particular joke, featuring some Pig Pen interjections and pig noises.
    • Besides the joke, there's some good old banter from Bobby and Pig about drummers and bearded clowns.
  • Hard to Handle
    • Pig kind of jumbles some of the lyrics like he did for most 1969 takes of this song, but he's so authentic about it, how can we really criticize him?
    • Unlike those 1969 versions, they jam the hell out of this one, starting to get towards the peak performances of the song that they reached in Summer of 1971.  This version is a little further out than the later versions, again due to the lingering psychedelia of the sixties.  In 1971 the jam became a little more structured in the way it developed, whereas this one kind of tumbles and boils over according to its own whims.  One could even say it's more choogly...
    • Bobby, Jerry, and Phil really drive this performance, with Bobby providing a platform for the other two to leap off of.  Again, TC is pretty low in the mix on this one, but he has some good fills of his own, and the drummers don't miss a beat.
  • Mama Tried
    • Classic lyrical amnesia from Bobby, because that's what we signed up for.
    • Very laid back country music here, as opposed to more hyped (coked) up, rocking versions of this from the rest of the band's career.  I like both versions for different reasons, but at this very moment the country version is winning out.
  • Casey Jones
    • There is about a minute of "Casey Jones" before the tape cuts.
    • This is disappointing, but not the end of the world, I'm just not sure why Dave would pick an incomplete show for a Dave's Picks release.  The songs that aren't missing are great, and it's definitely a show worth listening to, but Dave puts such an emphasis on releasing entire shows in this series that it seems like an odd choice.
  • Dire Wolf
    • Talk about laid back, this is as mellow as the show gets.
    • This is actually quite a bit different from the versions we would hear for the rest of the band's career, unlike "Black Peter."  With two drummers, Pig Pen on claves, and TC's ghostly organ, this early version really stands out as a beautiful alternative.  Maybe a little more dire, if you will (you don't have to).
  • Good Lovin'
    • If it weren't for "Lovelight," this would maybe be the best Pig Pen song on DaP 19.
    • I think the best versions of this song are the spacier and more precise ones from the Europe '72 Tour, but earlier ones like this are a lot more powerful and driving, and there's something to be said for psychedelia that spills over the lines.
    • They do the drum break that's typical of "Good Lovin'"s from this era, and once again the drummers are locked perfectly together.  As this year progressed they got a lot looser, but here they are still tightly in sync.
    • Jerry jumps back into the song and finds his place right in the the middle of the groove the drummers created, then Phil and the rest join in and the song starts to shift and evolve.  They shift back and forth from mellow grooves, to frantic peaks, to anxious psychedelic corners that Jerry and Phil shove the song into, while the drummers thunder along to the beat.
  • That's It For The Other One >
    • No time to catch your breath, because this is probably the highlight of DaP19.  They do the whole suite, and it's just about as perfect as it gets.
    •  They glide through "Crytpical" into another great drum break, with a little bit of feedback peaking through the cracks from the guitarists.
    • The drummers reach a climax, then shift down into the "Other One" rhythm and Phil comes thundering in, nailing his intro run.
    • As you might know, "The Other One" is my favorite Dead song, or at least in the top 5, and this version is an excellent demonstration of why that is.  Sure, it doesn't reach the same distant universes that Keith and the band would later reach, but they take what would otherwise seem like a simple riff on just a chord or two, and turn it into Dragon Music.  The band is telepathically linked with one another, and they just let the Old Powers flow through them while they chase the music and each other across the shifting and swirling time signatures.
    • They fly through the first verse and launch into a space that's a little farther out than the song got in 1969, but not quite get as far out as it would get later in the decade.  They return to the theme and thrash it about and explore all of its possibilities.  Jerry plays his classic riff that signals they're coming the end of the song, they mellow back into the rhythm, and shift into the second verse, transitioning smoothly into the "Cryptical Reprise."
    • They mellow into the easy lope of the outro jam, with Jerry getting some country-esque roynks out of his guitar.  They slowly build the song up, let it drift away, and build it up again, until they let it drift away one last time, and Phil slides them into...
  • Dark Star >
    • No complaints about that transition at all!
    • According to the info I have, this is the last "Dark Star" with TC as a full-time member in the band (he did sit-in with them at least one time in April of '71).
    • A pretty mellow start to the song leading up to the first verse, mostly staying on the theme.
    • Once they finish the riff after the verse, though, Bobby and Phil lead the way into a dissonant, dissipating space.  Most "Dark Star"s from this era did this kind of thing, dissolving into a very loud silence punctuated by bursts and blips of feedback, organ runs, and gong splashes, and this one is particularly good.
    • Phil is the first to start to really crack through the sonic barrier, and the feedback builds until it subtly turns into a jam.  It's not quite the "Feelin' Groovy" jam, but it's similar, kind of like a mix between that and the "Beautiful Jam" from the 1971-02-18 "Dark Star," and Bobby is playing some of his best guitar here.  He's truly leading the way through new musical territory in a way that no one else can.
    • They march triumphantly back into something recognizable as "Dark Star" and shift into position for the closing lyrics.  They nail the outro, as well as the intro to...
  • St. Stephen >
    • A very punchy "St. Stephen," but also very tight.  There are maybe some (more) cracks in the different instruments' tuning showing, but what can we really expect from early Dead?
    • Not too much to distinguish this St. Stephen from other versions of it from this era, but that doesn't mean it's lacking at all.  It's very high energy, and there's no confusion over lyrics or parts.
    • They get to the jam after "one man gathers what another man spills," and really hit a peak in their playing, and then instead of finishing "St. Stephen" they take a sudden left turn into "Lovelight!"
  • Turn on Your Lovelight
    • Despite what some people, and even their typically sane alter egos, might say, there is nothing wrong with a 38 minute "Lovelight."  Sure, Pig Pen has a lot of "wait a minute"s and "tighten up now"s, but throughout it all the Grateful Dead is playing its collective hearts out.
    • Seriously, this song gives Jerry almost as much freedom as "Dark Star."  He can follow the main song and play straight rock or blues, or he can take it into outer space and dance among the stars, and the rest of the band will follow him, until Pig Pen decides to tell us all about it.
    • Some interloper comes on stage at one point and Pig Pen tries to get a back and forth going with the guy, but he's too shy, too high, or both, and just yells for a bit and then leaves.
    • Pig Pen and the boys bring the song up to a raving climax and close out the first night of the Hawaii trip.
 January 24, 1970
  • Cumberland Blues
    • Another song that is better when it's a bit longer, but a great version of it nonetheless.
    • This is still played ferociously, and is another song made more noticeably unique by TC's contributions.
    • The singing in this show is a bit rougher in general, I think, but it's not the worst I've heard these guys sing.
  • Cold Rain & Snow
    • An early slow version of this song, compared to the hyper versions from their earlier days.  I like both versions, but the slower way of playing lasted until the end of the band, and is more iconic.  It also gives them more room to build the song up, sand the solo doesn't feel as rushed.
    • Again, some tuning issues from both singers and players, but undeniable energy and tightness in the playing.  "A" for effort, right?
  • Me & My Uncle
    • Another fun one with TC, feels a little like a cartoon Western.
    • Jerry's solo has a real bite to it, and the drummers create a relentless beat behind the song. 
    • This time Bobby broke a string, and they take a small break to fix it.
  • I'm a King Bee
    •  A lot of people overlook this when talking about Pig Pen, and I think that's a real shame.  It's a great slow-burner of a song, giving Pig plenty of space to blow his harp and sing his blues while the band slides under him.
    • Not to mention Jerry's blues solos combined with that Primal Dead sharpness to his sound.
    • I forgot how much I loved the dynamic those two had when trading leads.  When I think of Jerry I think of 50 years of Guitar Hero stardom, but at this point in 1970 he had only really been a big name for a couple of years, and those years started with him following Pig, who was the original leader.  You can hear how much those two love and respect one another in their playing.
  • Mason's Children
    • Dave Lemieux said this is possibly the best "Mason's Children," and he might be right.  I think  I like the first one from DaP 6 better, but Dave didn't oversell this one.
    • They come the closest to getting all of the lyrics right that I've heard from pre-1995, and the song feels faster and more complete than it did in earlier versions.
    • Phil clearly loved this song from its birth, and you have to wonder from the amount he plays it now if he brought it up at band meetings from 1970 on to bring the song back into rotation.  Just imagine a '74 version on the Wall of Sound with Keith!
    • They really stretch out the second jam of the song, with Jerry ripping off some stellar leads.
  • Black Peter
    • Not too different from the previous night's version, but Jerry's solo is a little more biting, like in "Me & My Uncle."
    • The outro jam is a little more lively and expansive too, with Jerry taking the song to different heights before bringing it back down to a close.
  • Good Lovin'
    • Unlike the previous night's version, when Billy and Mickey think it's their turn to shine Jerry and Phil immediately launch into a big jam, and the drummers can only follow along.
    •  This one isn't quite as driving as the night before, but has a little more funk to it.  Jerry and the rest of the band are focused more on finding new riffs to explore and settling into a groove than shooting off into outer space.
    • This one also has a cut in it, but thankfully it's at the very end of the song, so we get to hear the real meat of the jam.
  • Feedback >
    • Dave hypothesized that these next two tracks came after "Alligator > Caution," but no one can say for sure until the complete recording surfaces.
    • A very melodic "Feedback," helped out by TC's presence.
  • And We Bid You Goodnight
    • I think Jerry throws in a few extra verses on this one, but I haven't actually heard one of these in a while and I'm not going to do the research to find out.
    • Surprisingly, after some of the iffy vocals from the rest of this release, I really like this.  It's not the best version, or even particularly in tune, but they still manage to sound good together.  They know what their voices can and can't do, and try to craft the song in a way that works within those limitations.
    • They finish the song and the crowd keeps clapping, so Jerry delivers the cosmic message "that's your groove, take it with ya," which I'm sure some Hawaiians are still thinking about and clapping along too.
  • Dancing in the Streets
    • 1970 was arguably the best year for this song.  The earlier versions from 1967 are of course even more primal, and the "disco" versions from the later seventies had more funk to them, but ones like this are grade-A Grateful Dead.
    • Besides having the combined power and fury of two drummers, they take the jam from straight rock and roll and turn it into a marching dance through the clouds.  They really make it a much more spacey song than it was in any of its other iterations.
    • It's another case of Jerry and Phil not necessarily singing in tune while they do their backup vocals, but I just love that touch to these versions of the song!  Someone, I think Pig Pen, even picks up a tambourine, which usually is kind of hokey, but really brings the feeling of this song together: a pop song, performed while dancing on the edge of a black hole.
    • Seriously, how can they make such a simple pop song sound so metaphysically profound??
    • Jerry's guitar is like liquid silver dropping from the sun while Phil catches his leads before they hit the ground the drummers have created, and Bobby and TC shepherd the silver back up to the sun for Jerry to send back down.
    • They break through peak after peak in a series of musical climaxes, and eventually rock right back into the song itself and bring the night to an epic close.

     Well that's Dave's Picks 19!  All in all it's not the best Dave's Picks, but it definitely has some of the best songs Dave has released yet.  "That's It For The Other One" and "Dancing In The Streets" are Hall of Fame material, and we get some golden Pig Pen numbers.  Dave said DaP 20 is one they've been working on for a while, and that should be out in November, so it's a long wait for the fourth of the year!  I'll have a review of that once it comes out, and should have a review up shortly of Golden Gate Wingmen's show in Brighton on 2016-08-13, so stay tuned!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Jerry Noises 2

     Sorry I haven't been posting too much, got a few things going on, including some blog-related things, so stay tuned!  My post about Dead & Company after the tour has grown into a combination of several things, and has developed a mind of its own.

     For now, here are two more Jerry noises to add to the list I already started.  Again, please feel free to share some ideas of your own, and let me know what you think of these ones.

  • Feathered Fingers
    • Maybe this is just Jerry finger-picking, but something about his playing sounds almost like the notes are covered in feathers.  This comes out the most in the deepest of musical spaces, such as "Dark Star" or actual "Space."  I don't hear it as much post '77, but from '72-'77 Jerry routinely gets this sound out of his guitar.  The solo-Jerry "Space"s from '77 exemplify this the best (post-"Uncle John's Band" 1977-05-11 and post-"Eyes of the World" 1977-05-22 [DaP 3]).
    • Mayer can get a bit of this sound, and I've heard Stanley Jordan do it a couple of times, so I think it really mu8st have to do with finger-picking.  Either way, when applied correctly in Dead songs, it has a beautiful effect that I think separates this particular sound from the style itself.
  • Shparrlorangs
    • Like with Roynk Rankles, I had to onomatopoeiatize this one.  Shparrlorangs are the sound Jerry's guitar makes when he's really playing from the heart.  It has the "ang"-ness of a Roynk, but there's a lot more vibration and heart-rending to it.  The notes themselves are of course just vibrations in the air, but a Shparllorang is almost like the vibrations themselves vibrating.  These really only come out in soulful songs like "To Lay Me Down," or "Black Muddy River," and they have the power to pull tears from otherwise dry eyes.
    • Kadlecik can definitely create this sound, but Mayer is a master of it.  Between his Rankly Roynkles and the way he Shparrlorangs, Mayer really captures what is at the heart of Jerry's playing style.

     That's all I got for now, but I'm sure I'll have more as soon as I figure out how to make some more words!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Fenway Park Dead & Company - 2016-07-16

     You can read the previous night's review here.  All of these pictures are my mom's, and her full album is here.

     Woke up Saturday ready for another great show!  The Friday show's soundboard was already available for download when I got up, but I didn't check it out right away.  Saturday started out hotter than Friday, and at the time all I could do was just sit in front of fans and relax!  My friend Parker from work was coming to this show with us, so he met me at my place and we headed in to the city after some train shenanigans.  We met my parents for a late lunch/early dinner at the Yardhouse again after riding with trains full of hippies.  I thought it was crowded around the stadium on Friday, but that was nothing compared to the crowds on Saturday.  The show was sold out, and there were plenty of people looking for tickets.

     After we ate, we all kind of went our own ways, my parents to meet their friends, and Parker and I to meet our friend Andrew from work.  Neither Parker, nor Andrew had seen the Dead before, and Andrew only knew a few of their songs, so I was thinking this would be more of a novelty for them.  We hung out a bit, got some beers and they hit the merch tables, then we went our separate ways.  Parker and I wandered around the stadium for a bit; I had come to terms with the fact that we were in Fenway Park, but it was all new to Parker and he was pretty giddy.  After some pictures and exploring we headed to our seats, which were a little farther back and to the side than Friday's were, but the line of sight was about the same.


     As I mentioned, this was a sold out crowd, and there were people everywhere!  They even put up extra barriers and had extra staff to direct people towards inconvenient entrances, so once we got to the seats I decided to try and not go anywhere else until the show was over.  Having that many people in the stadium seemed to affect the sound quality for the worse, too.   I could still hear everything, but it sounded a bit boomier and echoed more than the previous night. Of course, having a larger crowd singing and clapping along was fun, but it also made it that much hotter having so much more biomass crammed into the stadium.

     The band came out on stage at about the same time as the previous night, and the final show of the East Coast Tour was underway!

First Set (* w/ Donna)
  • Jam >
    • Like with the previous night's opener, I knew immediately that this was going into "Truckin'."  It sounded a lot like the jams from 2011-03-29 and 2015-06-27 that both went into "Truckin'," so I was pretty sure.
    • Really good jam though, I'm not trying to say it was the same thing they had done those other times, this was definitely its own jam that just shared a similar theme.
  • Truckin' >
    • Could have been a little faster, but we were used to Bobby's tempos by this point, and they got that groove flowing.
    • Bobby got all the lyrics right, which sounds suspicious, but I think it really was Bob Weir - the heat must have confused him into getting the words right!
    • I was thinking we'd get this in the second set, but what a great way to open the show!
    • Like with Bobby's other bands, they put a lengthy jam in the middle of the song where the Grateful Dead never had one, and the outro jam was a little shorter.  They did what I think of as the "ball of lightning" riff (the build-up to the outro jam that comes after the last "get back truckin' home" verse) like usual and took off on the jam, then John lead the way into the next song.

  • Big River
    • While this is another song that I didn't think I really needed to see again, it was probably the best one I've seen live.
    • Parker has really only been to country concerts before this, so this was more or less up his alley.
    • Jeff once again stepped up to the plate (ha, a baseball reference, I did it!) to show that Mayer was not the only guy who can crank out unbelievable solos.

  • They Love Each Other* >
    • Another one I was hoping for from this band, and Donna came back out!  Everyone in the stadium was thrilled to see her.
    • This song grew into maturity with a slower lope in the post-hiatus days of the 70's, and Bobby's preferred tempo did the song many favors.  As I said about the previous night, the tempo allowed the band to stretch its muscles and really explore the intricacies of the song.
    • They broke the song into two different solo sections, instead of combining both solos into one part of the song, with John stepping up  first and absolutely killing it.  They also threw in the old lyrics from pre-hiatus "heard your news report, you know you're falling short," etc.
    • Jeff once again insisted on not being outdone, and blew everyone's minds with his turn at a solo.  He was probably the star of the night, never flagging even when the rest of the band would struggle.
    • Just when it looked like Jeff would walk away the victor in this song, the band decided to do a more extended closing jam, and John tore it up.  Another great arrangement of a classic song by this incredible band.


  • Deal* >
    • I actually made a quick bathroom run during this, figuring I had seen two versions from this band already and there were no lines at the time.  I was right about there being no lines, but I missed some parts of what turned into an incredible "Deal."
    • John just dug right into this one and didn't want to leave a single note unplayed.
    • I danced my way through the beer lines, around to the prescribed entrance, and back to my seat in time to hear the closing solos, and kept dancing once I got there!  The rest of the set I got a little too hot and mostly just swayed to the music.

  • Bird Song* >
    • They made a nice segue into "Bird Song" led by Bobby and Jeff while John played with a bit of feedback until he slipped into the song.
    • It wasn't a perfect version, as there were some miscues between Bobby and John when the different parts came in, but the band really took off in other spots.
    • The singing, when they all sang together, was truly beautiful, and it's the kind of song that is just so cathartic to hear and be a part of live.  My friend Andrew was talking about the concert on Monday and said the music really feels like medicine for the soul, and this is song is a perfect example of what he’s talking about.


  • Passenger* >
    • A surprising transition, but another song we had really been hoping to see them do with Donna!  Like "Bird Song," it had some definite rough edges, but it was fantastic anyway!
    • Bobby and Donna had some disagreements about the regular lyrics, but then they came to the new bridge that they put in the song with brand new lyrics, and almost agreed on all of them!  By "new," I mean some lyrics from when they originally wrote the song, that have been reworked.  The new lyrics go something like: "Jet plane shadows/ Under the Sky/ Just like an elephant/ Waiting-planning to die/ Ask me no questions/ Sing you no lies/ Give me-One more whiskey/ Or I guess it's goodbye."
    • They had done this with Donna earlier in the tour and it was pretty rough, but this one mostly went smoothly!  The final lyrics got a bit muddled between Bobby and Donna, but no real train wreck.
    • It's such a good song, and it was great to see it with the Rhythm Devils, and to see some new faces playing it.  I've seen Jeff and Bobby do it before, but Oteil and John brought their own touches to it.

    • Goin' Down the Road Feeling Bad*
      • I'm kind of burnt out on this song, but this version was really good.  And I'd rather see it in the first set than the second, so lucky me!
      • Oteil has been singing the line "feed me on cornbread and beans" at a few shows on this tour, and he did it here, too.  I first saw Bobby sing that line at 11/11/11, so it was fun to see it again in a different context.  Donna also got a solo line, "goin' where those chilly winds don't blow," and she sang it beautifully!
    • Voter Rap
      • They brought the song to a rocking close, and Bobby encouraged us all to go register if we didn't have anything better to do, which he figured we didn't.

         The lights came on and we sat down.  I finally got over my bit of heat exhaustion, and Parker seemed to be having a great time, even if he didn't know what was going on.  We hung out for a bit and checked out the scene.  As I expected, the crowds going in every direction were huge and no one was really getting anywhere.  My dad somehow managed to make it to the bathroom and back, probably through some form of magic.  I explained some things about the Dead and their world to Parker while we waited, but I'm not sure how much he believed or how much sank in.  Eventually though, the big lights at Fenway went down and it was time for the second set!

    Second Set (* w/ Donna)
    • Playing in the Band* >
      • This was another that I was sure they were going to play leading up to these shows, and their tuning confirmed my suspicions.
      • They launched right into it, and got the structured part of the song exactly perfect.  Bobby got all the words in the right order, Donna provided nice harmonies, and the whole band made it through the different 10/4 riffs.  Donna did not do her trademark scream before the final verse, which was too bad, but she still killed it!
      • They drifted off into jam territory with John and Jeff leading the way and Oteil propelling them along.  Both of these concerts gave us a chance to see the spacier side of John's playing.  We hadn't really seen him do any of these formless songs before like "Bird Song" and "Dark Star," or this, and he proved that he could do more than just rock out over set chord progressions.
      • They drifted into a darker jam and John switched the tone of his guitar, and it should have been obvious where they were headed, but I didn't see it at the time.  They didn't go right into the next song, though, they kept the jam going down dark side streets and around blind corners.
      • John started to wind "Playing" up as if they were going to go into the reprise and finish the song, but Bobby had a different idea.

      • DSC03990
    • Estimated Prophet* >
      • Bobby kind of forced a rough transition into this one, but once they were in it, the machine went back to running smoothly.
      • This is maybe the best of the three of these I've seen them do.  There's one spot in the middle jam where John thinks they're coming back into the lyrics and no one else goes with him, but the rest is absolutely top-notch.  This also felt a little faster than the previous versions we saw this band do, and that's a good thing!
      • It's so cool to see and hear Donna sing on some of these older songs, especially ones like this that originally came into being while she was in the band.  You have to think she had at least some input on the way the song took shape.
      • While I feel John isn't too comfortable in "Terrapin," he seems like a little kid in a jungle gym for "Estimated!"  The weird chords and rhythms give John more things to jump off of instead of tripping him up.  Sometimes he'll stumble a little, but he just seems to be having so much fun crafting unique solos over the song.
      • If you haven't read this previous post this next bit won't make sense, and even if you did it might not, but John's guitar was full or roynks, and he tried to rankle them all out at once in this song.  I didn't think a guitar could be so rankled, but he had to roynk the whole thing out.  Don't even get me started on his shpollerangs...
    • He's Gone* >
      • Another slightly forced transition, this one from John, but they found their groove in the song immediately.
      • Bobby and John traded lyrics again on this one, and Donna's singing really stood out.
      • John nailed the big solo in the middle, really getting into the Big Guitar sound that's so reminiscent of Jerry's playing.  His playing suddenly filled the stadium.
      • No outro jam on this one, which was too bad, but a surprising transition...with another soon to follow!
    • Sugaree* >
      • I've seen plenty of "Sugaree"s in my day, and if John wasn't so goddam good at playing this song I would have complained.
      • Instead, however, this is another contender for probably the best version of the song I've seen.  John was determined to burn the stadium down with the power of electric guitar, and, while the stadium is still standing, I'm pretty sure you can still see scorch marks on the Green Monster.
      • I still think this should be a first set barn burner so we can leave room for something like "Eyes of the World" or, I don't know, "Scarlet Begonias" in the second set, but if they're going to play it this well I'm going to dance and have a good time!
      • They got to the end of the song, but instead of doing the typical finish, John suddenly started in on the MuTron with his guitar and...

      • DSC03993
    • Fire On The Mountain* >
      • They did "Sugaree > Fire On The Mountain?!"  Everyone was shocked, and there wasn't time to explain to Parker why this was so weird, or at least weirder than the rest of the night so far.  A non-Head will look at you like a crazy person if after "Playing > Estimated" you tell them that this is what's really weird.
      • It started a little rough as John set the tempo, but then the drummers locked in and Oteil kicked into the bass line, and we were off.
      • This version was shorter and kind of punchy, as opposed to the longer and more drawn out versions I like, but it was still a whole lot of fun.  John and Oteil really synced up for some incredible playing, and the drummers laid down an infectious beat that you had to dance to.
      • They have a new way of ending the song where they'll all just stop playing and sing one last "Fire," which is really different, but I think I like it!
    • Drums >
      • I had warned Parker that "Drums" was a thing, but I had not told him all that it entails.
      • A pretty short "Drums," and not a lot of shenanigans.  Oteil was up there on various srum and horns again, but I don't think Jeff did this time...maybe I just missed him?

      • DSC04015
    • Space >
      • Everyone ran off stage when Mickey started wailing on The Beam with the metal pipe he usually plays it with.
      • He normally has a strong attraction to those cords of metal, but tonight he took it to a whole new level, and did everything short of playing it with his dick.  He plucked it, he stroked it, and slid the pipe along it...and then he started licking it.  And I don't mean just a light licking, he went so far I hope he bought the thing dinner beforehand.  This is like fourth date kind of stuff.
      • The rest of the band came out and did some fairly typical "Space" noises for a while, but nothing quite as inspired as the first night.

      • DSC04023
    • Days Between >
      • The music mellowed down and Jeff started the telltale riff of this epic song.
      • I've said this about different songs in the past, but this was the "Days Between" I've been waiting for, and they totally killed it.
      • Jeff has always been the star of this song in post-Jerry bands, and tonight was no exception.  He taps into the dark, infested heart of the song and just lets the existential angst flow.
      • I love the way Bobby sings this, and the way the band rises and falls at his command while the song traverses the troughs and peaks it creates.
      • John and Jeff totally locked minds for the jam out of the song, building it higher and higher, flirting with the main chord but never quite hitting it dead center.

      • DSC04008
    • Not Fade Away*
      • Another slightly rough transition led by Bobby, but soon the whole stadium got clapping and dancing!
      • Of course, in a big stadium with sweaty, inebriated white people all at different distances from the origin of the sound, everyone was clapping on different beats.
      • Still, this song was a great way to close the set, and it was what I had predicted for the set closer, so it was ok by me!  Oteil really killed it with a little slap bass going on under his singing.
      • It wasn't as adventurous or lengthy as one would hope, but still a great rocker to close the set.
    • One More Saturday Night*
      • Donna did a Donna scream!  Still wish she did one during "Playing," but my life is now complete.
      • My only first of the night, and it was about time.  I've been to so many Saturday shows where they didn't do this song, so it was good to finally cross it off the list.
      • A great version of an incredible song, and the tempo felt just exactly perfect, especially once they built it up at the end of the song.

         We kept clapping and hollering for another encore, but it was already just about the alleged curfew time.  And besides, we were hot, tired, and sweaty already!  We hung out at our seats for a while while the crowd pressed round in all directions.  We eventually headed towards the exit and Parker and I split off from my parents to walk to the train.  It ended up being a nice walk, but the sweatiest train ride in Boston history.


         So that was the end of the tour!  All in all I think Friday was the better of the two nights, but this Saturday show was truly an awesome experience.  At times it seemed like it was more about the crowd than it was about the music, especially during "Not Fade Away," but the music was still of an excellent quality.  This band has grown so much in the months its been in existence, and I can only imagine how much it will continue to grow and improve as time goes on!  Hopefully they'll announce a Fall or Winter tour, and the party can go on!