Fare Thee Well Chicago: The Ephemeral Resurrection

grateful-dead-fare-thee-well-chicago-04-july-3-2015-billboard-650-1For anyone who read my most recent posts, you know I was not a fan of the music-making that took place in Santa Clara, CA. at the Fare Thee Well Grateful Dead celebration. To clarify, my intent is not to diminish the experience of those who were there or those who genuinely loved the music. So much goes into a concert experience and these particular concerts are so very emotionally charged. I’ve not talked to one single person who was in attendance in either Santa Clara or Chicago who did not remark on the amazing energy that was present in both stadiums. Through the roof. The outpouring of love must have been tremendous. That experience in itself transcends the quality of the music-making, no question. The sheer celebration and flood of emotional and spiritual experiences. The sheer importance of this music in our lives, this bond we share through it, the journeys we’ve taken both internally and externally, the absolute life-affirming nature of the entire Grateful Dead experience.

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Fare Thee Well Chicago: The Ephemeral Resurrection

Fare Thee Well Stumbles Out Of The Starting Gate

Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 12.23.12 PMLet me begin by saying I love these guys. I’ve been a hardcore DeadHead since 1975. It was a joy to see Phil Lesh smiling and having so much fun up there on stage for the first night of the 5-night Fare Thee Well 50th celebration of the Grateful Dead with the “core-four” remaining members of the band plus guests.

For many of us, there is no Grateful Dead without Jerry Garcia. But the songs themselves and Garcia’s legacy seem to be (and hopefully are) undying; The spirit of the band, the essence of the music and all that it has inspired. And the band certainly tried to capture that spirit with what might well be the most ballsy setlist imaginable for a first night gig of this long-anticipated reunion. It was a DeadHead dream come true in terms of song choices. Not a single post-1970 tune was played. The jams were long and casual. Incredible rarities like Cream Puff War and What’s Become of The Baby were played, as well as one of the most beloved trifectas of all time, Dark Star-> St. Stephen-> The Eleven (with the William Tell bridge!!!). On the surface, this looks amazing. Unfortunately in my opinion, the quality of musicianship on display could not match the clear and loving intent of all involved.

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Fare Thee Well Stumbles Out Of The Starting Gate

Grateful Dead 50th Reunion Event: Impressions & Struggles


We all knew that the remaining members of the Grateful Dead were probably going to do SOMETHING to celebrate the 50 year mark. I was curious and a little uncertain about how I felt at the idea of celebrating the Grateful Dead’s 50th anniversary 20 years after Jerry Garcia’s death. Since that epic loss, the Grateful Dead‘s remaining members have played both together and separately, but never under the moniker “Grateful Dead.” And appropriately so, in my opinion. Jerry Garcia wasn’t just a guitarist, he was one of the main reasons the Grateful Dead sound and energy existed at all.

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Grateful Dead 50th Reunion Event: Impressions & Struggles

You Never Forget The First Time: HELP ON THE WAY, April 17, 1983

April 17, 1983 was the first time I saw the Grateful Dead play their magnificent trilogy of songs from what I consider their best studio album (from a band not known for their studio efforts), BLUES FOR ALLAH. Kicking off the second set with HELP ON THE WAY and moving seamlessly into the instrumental bridge SLIPKNOT! and eventually culminating –after a long, strange trip– with the ever-danceable and always-joyous FRANKLIN’S TOWER, the Grateful Dead, as they had done many times before, blew my mind.  The band had just reintroduced this beloved combo of songs only a month before (after a period of many years where two of the three songs were simply not performed at all) and audiences were MUCHOS excited to catch this powerful musical triptych. This night was the fifth time they’d played these tunes together since reintroducing them.

Not only was this my first time seeing the trilogy live, but it was easily the best version I ever caught. While it’s true that by the spring of ’83 Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead were already showing signs of wear and tear, they also managed to maintain a vital energy that is fiercely evident in this audience recording from the Brendan Byrne Arena in NJ. They performed 2 back-to-back nights on this particular run and both nights featured appearances by Stephen Stills (though not playing on the above songs. Sorry). They were rockin’, magical nights and still talked about in the annals of Grateful Dead history. And rightfully so. There was a dynamic drive to both these shows that was palpable. And it still is as you’ll see when you listen to this tasty tidbit. I hope you enjoy it as much as I.


This stream is temporary so if you find it no longer works you can hear these songs, as well as the rest of the show, at the Internet Archive HERE.

You Never Forget The First Time: HELP ON THE WAY, April 17, 1983

Furthur Round Two: Back to the Greek

I first saw this post-Grateful Dead musical incarnation last year at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. They were here for one night only, but it was enough to convince me that this band had something going on that no other post-Jerry Garcia line-up had even come close to. Having already been a fan of lead guitarist John Kadlecik’s playing from his 12 years with Dark Star Orchestra, I was curious how he would mix with another band, no less one containing two of the Grateful Dead’s original members! Well, suffice it to say, he fit like a glove and the show I was treated to blew my mind. Songs I never dared imagine I’d hear live were suddenly pouring through the PA loud and clear and TIGHT! Something the Grateful Dead rarely managed in their final decade.

I’ve spent the last year since that show listening to a lot of Furthur on Archive.org and following their shows online with a somewhat religious fervor. I’ve also watched numerous homemade Youtube vids of their live performances to get an even deeper sense of their live venue-to-venue vibe. One of the standout realizations is that this past year has allowed Kadlecik to step up in a way he hadn’t been before; there had been a sense of “holding back,” whether real or imagined, that made me root for Kadlecik to find his new place in this band and embrace it. And it, him. And so, at last, he seems to have done just that.

This year, Furthur delighted us with a two-night run that was simply incredible. The first night was my personal favorite. There was something magical in the air and the band seemed to ride that wave. A wonderful convergence of events came together to make the night extra special. I had been lucky enough to get front row center seats. Now this is a bit misleading as there is a standing-room-only pit in front of the stage and we were right behind that; the first row of actual seats. Sadly, the pit isn’t actually a pit, so it’s not sunken, which means there were many a head (Head?) to peer over to see the band clearly. But we were close and deeply absorbed in the space.

I was also lucky enough to be treated to a VIP pass which allowed my friend and I to indulge in some nice munchies before, during (intermission) and after the show. Free drinks, warm coffee, and a chance to say howdy to the band and other Furthur family members, both new and old.

Outside, it was a somewhat brisk Southern California evening. It had been pouring rain all day and most folks I know were more than a little worried that we’d be drenched and wind-swept as the band played. After all, the tickets did say Rain Or Shine. But just hours before show time, the skies cleared as if the storm had purposefully moved through in order to clean the smoggy L.A. air for our welcomed visitors. The sun went down, the moon and stars came out, and the band took the stage for a first set that turned out to be wonderfully Europe ’72-centric. Perhaps, as this is the home of Rhino (keepers of the Grateful Dead musical archive), the band were honoring the recent release of a very successful and grandiose box-set of the entire Europe 1972 tour. Or maybe it was just in the clean air. Whatever it was, the music was soaring and heartfelt. One song after another with nary a stray tune to break the spell. MUSIC NEVER STOPPED was a nice opener, but the boys were still warming up. BERTHA got the momentum going, but it was CUMBERLAND BLUES that finally kicked into gear. This band was on fire and the temperature never dropped. The NEW SPEEDWAY BOOGIE set-closer left me immediately hungry for more.

That’s me on the left, Andy on the right.

My friend Andy, who accompanied me, had never had the privilege of seeing Furthur before (nor had he ever seen the Dead, but I’d dragged him to a couple of DSO shows which he really dug). He seemed to genuinely respond to the music and I was glad he was getting to see the band on one of its better nights (given my disappointment with a recent DSO show we had attended).

Set 2 opened with SAILOR->SAINT and I knew from the tightness of playing that we were in for a great ride. And what a ride it was. Any night that gives us the full TERRAPIN SUITE is a night worth remembering. And this one was beautiful, powerful and engrossing. I was worried for a moment when they slipped into DAYS BETWEEN, but Bobby delivered it with an ease and sensitivity I’d not heard him bring to this tune previously. Bobby’s singing has been a mixed bag for me with Furthur. He’s taken to speaking many of the words instead of singing them and his newfound “style” doesn’t always seem to be in sync with the lyrical nature of some of the tunes. Particularly the Jerry tunes. I don’t know if Bobby’s approach is due to age and a voice finally failing, or whether it’s just a creative choice. Or both. But Bobby’s vocal contributions are rather inconsistent. But on this particular night, he was exactly where he needed to be. More melodic and articulate than he’s been of late. Phil’s singing, on the other hand, has grown in leaps and bounds to be, oddly enough for a man in his early 70’s, better than it’s ever been. Phil’s EYES OF THE WORLD was spectacular. He’s really overcome what for many years had seemed like an impossible task: singing in tune and with style and purpose. Mr. Lesh has overcome any obstacles between himself and his voice and it is now a treat to hear him sing and own these songs. And to watch this man smile all night long… What a joy.

It occurred to me on that first night as I watched Phil and Bobby, that I’d been seeing these two men play live music for 32 years. They were young men when I first saw them. Now they are in their final decades. But there they are, all smiles and confidence and making truly incredible music. There is a genuine love and pride I feel watching these two old “friends” do what they love and do it so well. And I feel extremely lucky to be still participating in those events and moments. We are on borrowed time here and we all know it. And I think many are realizing that Furthur is a VERY special band; the combination of the right musicians coming together to create something incredibly unique and powerful. As if lightning has struck twice. No, this band has no Jerry Garcia (who in my mind ranks up there with Coltrane and Davis and Parker), but they do have something rare that has taken Phil and Bobby a long time to find again, something many of us believed would never happen. Thank the universe it has.

And this is all possible in no small part thanks to the mind-blowing contributions of Jeff Chimenti on keyboards, Joe Russo on drums and Sunshine Becker and Jeff Pehrson on backup vocals. Chimenti’s craftsmanship, technique and style is incredibly moving. He is, without question, my favorite keyboardist ever to share a stage with Phil and Bobby. And that includes Keith Godcheaux, who was my favorite keyboard player to share the stage with the Grateful Dead. Chimenti’s heart and soul is in his playing. I can’t get enough of it.

Joe Russo on drums is not only a powerhouse of a drummer, but his musical instincts and skill make this band. Without him, there would be no Furthur, plain and simple. His pulse and momentum, his singular rhythmic voice, infuse every moment. And Sunshine B and Jeff P add that much-needed layer of beauty to the songs. Songs which cry out for -songs which demand– the lilting, melodic tones of their combined harmonies and their profound and passionate interpretations.

And even though I’ve already sang his praises, Kadlecik has overcome any doubts Dead Heads may have had by proving that he is not a Jerry-clone, but an inspired, supremely talented guitar player who has taken the influence of Garcia’s style and turned it into his own rich voice with unique phrasings and a sincere emotional resonance that is pure John K. His ability to live in the music is staggering. We are all very lucky that the path he is on has led him here.

Due to a strict curfew, the first night’s show was cut short and set two ended with an abrupt climax to GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD (throwing John K for a moment). NOT FADE AWAY had been the prearranged set closer, but the band never got there. A quick donor rap by Phil was followed by an energetic, but highly truncated JOHNNY B. GOODE (which also threw John K for a moment. Maybe Phil and Bobby need to communicate with him a tad better. Under the circumstances, I thought John adapted with surprising grace and creativity. You had to really pay attention to realize something was off at all). And no customary stage bow. But this was all good and done with an immense sense of humor, which just adds to the vibe of a celebration more than a “show.”

The second night was dedicated to the late Steve Jobs. This was not revealed, however, until the end of the first set. I’m glad it was as I had been feeling a lack of cohesion to the set list. The first night felt like a very particular vision, there was almost a story being told. This first set on night two lacked that. Until Phil announced its inspiration and then it all made sense; it all fell into place. Pink Floyd’s TIME was the first set highlight for me, as I imagine it was for many. Ethereal and energized, the set really kicked in for me at this point and the follower, DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY (one of my all-time faves), cinched it. I had chills and Bobby, again, brought a rare level of perfection to his vocal approach. This was followed by RIPPLE which is seen by many as the quintessential Grateful Dead song. It can’t be sung without conjuring up Jerry and all things lost to us. All the while filling us with a serene warmth that is known for instigating those irrepressible smiles that so often go hand-in-hand with the music of the Grateful Dead.

The second set was just a stellar set list. I still preferred the energy of the first night more (it’s a very personal thing, quite subjective), but no one could complain about the choice of songs or how they were played on this night. THE WHEEL and UNCLE JOHN’S BAND, THE OTHER ONE into ST. STEPHEN… So much fierce energy, so much joy… I had a distracted moment during the second set where I chose to head down to the pit during MOUNTAIN SONG to meet a friend (and grab another VIP pass). I usually like to keep all distractions to a minimum and allow the music to take me away. As much as I tried to stay focused and involved, this little excursion took me out of the music for a short time. I got to watch I KNOW YOU RIDER from the pit, then traveled back to my section B seats and the dear friends who I had the honor of sharing this show with. Being close to the stage is never a substitute for being with good folk.

There were a few songs that were on the pre-arranged set list for this night that got cut at the last minute. SUNSHINE DAYDREAM was initially planned to follow RIPPLE, but Phil seemed to recognize the perfection of ending the set right there and made it so. Set two was supposed to open with CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT (one of my favorite pieces ever!), but that was cut. Why? Who knows. Perhaps awareness of curfew time-constraints, or maybe being too nail-on-the-head for a Steve Jobs-dedicated show (“You know he had to die…”). No matter. The band more than made up for what we didn’t get with what we did get! The band left us with the melodic and harmonious intonations of ATTICS OF MY LIFE buoyant in our hearts and minds.

October 5 & 6, 2011 at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles were two nights of bliss I will keep with me forever. Much of my life has been happily consumed with the music of the Grateful Dead and I am ecstatic to be able to continue to experience this music in a live setting, re-imagined, rediscovered by the men who originally created it, taken to new heights. Furthur is not the Grateful Dead. And they don’t seem to be attempting to recreate that. They are their own band, with a unique sound. A jazzier outgrowth of the Jerry Garcia variety of Grateful Dead-influenced experiences. And that is exactly what was needed to allow these musicians to be their own band, and not some fancy cover band that could never live up to their glory days. Furthur is currently immersed in and embracing their own glory days. And I am thrilled to be alive to share it.

Here is the entire TERRAPIN STATION SUITE from the first night for your listening and viewing pleasure:

Oct. 5, 2011
Oct. 6, 2011
Furthur Round Two: Back to the Greek

Weathering The Storm Of Disappointment: When DSO Doesn’t Turn The Clock Back Far Enough

This has nothing to do with the talent or skill of Dark Star Orchestra. I have never seen them not play well. But I am learning something about myself that I must face: I’m simply not fond of the Grateful Dead’s set lists or sound post 1984. In fact, I would go as far as to say that, where DSO is concerned, I don’t need to see them recreate any shows post 1979. But Dark Star Orchestra doesn’t play for me and me alone, they do what they do. Which is recreate Grateful Dead concerts from the band’s many eras.

And this is where I have to be honest with myself. The Grateful Dead were never the same band for me after keyboardist Keith Godchaux left and Brent Mydland stepped in to take his place. Brent was a supremely talented musician. No one who knows anything about music could deny this. However, his style of playing, singing and songwriting was so vastly different from the Grateful Dead I fell in love with that I was never fully able to embrace his contribution. Ironically, I never had the opportunity to see Keith perform with the Grateful Dead. My first show was in September of 1979 shortly after Brent joined the band. But I had been listening to the Grateful Dead for many, many years before I had the opportunity to see them live. And in those early days of Brent, he was a bit more subdued. But within a couple of years, his playing became busy and forceful to the point where almost all the quiet spaces within the music were filled. For me, it was a sound deluge that diminished the delicacy I had come to love and expect from the Grateful Dead. The jazz-influence that Keith advanced in the band –his sense of when to step up and when to step back– was lost with Brent’s enthusiastic contribution. It wasn’t wrong, just different. And, for my personal taste, less preferable.

Now understand, ever since the beginning of the Grateful Dead, they were a band capable of vast depths of sound; they could be as quiet as a single soft breath or as loud and complex as a city under siege. But it was the contrast between these two spaces that made the adventure of seeing and listening to the Grateful Dead a genuine journey. Brent diluted this contrast for me. The cacophony became more consistent, more the norm. And, as will happen with the addition of any new sound, any new influence, it effected how the other band members approached the music.

Then there were the songs that Brent wrote. Simply put, Brent’s skills as a songwriter were not in sync with what attracted me so intensely to the Grateful Dead. I know that Brent was profoundly disheartened to see so many people choosing his songs as their bathroom break or an opportunity to visit concessions, but he never seemed to consider that his style of songwriting was not the kind of music that attracted many Dead Heads to the Dead; Brent’s songs were more direct in their storytelling, less ethereal and poetic. They were also seeped in a pop-ballad style that seemed to defy the Grateful Dead’s deeper exploratory nature. Yes, the Grateful Dead were a reflection of all types of American music, but I suppose the part of Americana that influenced Brent never appealed to me and, as talented as he was, I never found a way into his music. It simply did not move me. In fact, it did quite the opposite. For me, it stopped the show in its tracks.

Later audiences seemed to embrace Brent’s songwriting. In many ways, it was more in sync with what drew these later crowds to the Grateful Dead. Pop songs like TOUCH OF GREY and WHEN PUSH COMES TO SHOVE or FOOLISH HEART, all Garcia/Hunter originals, were appealing to a generation that preferred “ditties” over depth. I rarely enjoyed these songs and, like Brent’s musical preferences, they stopped the show for me.

Last night’s Dark Star Orchestra show at the El Rey in Los Angeles was filled with these show-stoppers. And, as if pre-planned, the audience seemed to be made up of far more frat-boys (of varying ages) as well as men who clearly spend an inordinate amount of time at the gym pumping iron. This evening would find them with their trendy-clad girlfriends by their sides. It was like DSO were playing 24-Hour Fitness.

In effect, the show recreated was from May 9, 1987 and the audience matched the era. Eek. This was a time when the Grateful Dead were slowly being pushed out of their favorite venues due to uncontrollable crowds. The scene was turning, and not for the better. TOUCH OF GREY ushered in a whole new audience that changed the vibe forever.

Now, one good thing about DSO recreating these later shows is that DSO is, invariably, a far tighter band than the Grateful Dead were at this point in their development (or devolution, as many would refer to it). So the playing last night was solid. Tight.

But I’ve discovered (or more aptly, am ready to admit) that the allure of DSO for me is in seeing those earlier shows. Opening with SUGAR MAGNOLIA-> SUGAREE was very welcome. And even ME AND MY UNCLE-> MEXICALI BLUES was fun and well-played and still in keeping with the oldies but goodies theme I so love. But then suddenly, I’m plunged into WHEN PUSH COMES TO SHOVE, a song I never understood the appeal of. For me, it was not reflective of Garcia’s musical strengths. If this were the music of the Grateful Dead from the get-go, I never would have been attracted to them. This was followed by the (IMHO) dreadful Brent tune TONS OF STEEL. Try as I did, I was not able to shed the sinking feeling building in my gut. I was no longer “in” the music as I had been for those first two songs. Then BROTHER ESAU followed. While a far better song than the two previous, it’s still something I have a hard time getting excited about. This trifecta left me feeling disappointed and “outside” the show.

Luckily, the TENNESSEE JED and LET IT GROW brought me back up, though never to the level where I had started. There was something in my gut, expectations foiled, that I could not shake. Truth be told, as soon as I walked into the El Rey and saw that the guitars and drums were set up for a show most-likely from the 80’s or 90’s, my heart sank a bit. But there was an extra mic set up which gave me hope that this would possibly be an original setlist and not a show from my least favorite era (as it suggested the inclusion of the fabulous Lisa Mackey in the Donna Godchaux role). Alas, the extra mic was removed and my hopes dashed.

The second set started off with more dismay. TOUCH OF GREY. I could live a long, happy life and never hear this song again. It’s a fun little ditty (there’s that word again), but it’s a sad replacement for the possibilities of second set openers the Grateful Dead were accustomed to treating us to. This was followed by LOOKS LIKE RAIN. Never one of my favorites, it was at least an older tune, but one usually reserved for first sets, not second. Again, given what second sets often had to offer, this felt distressing. I was, at this point, thoroughly removed from the show and could have actually walked out and called it a night.

Now I don’t want anyone to misunderstand my statements here. Dark Star Orchestra played these songs, each and every one of them, with energy and conviction. As I said before, in many ways better than the Grateful Dead themselves had in 1987. The disappointment I was feeling began and ended with me. No one else. It’s my personal taste and desire. It’s what I want to get out of the experience of seeing DSO that was unfulfilled. DSO was just doing what DSO does. And, try as I might to counter it, so was I.

The HE’S GONE-> JAM was very well played, particularly the long OTHER ONE TEASE JAM which started to lure me back in. DRUMS->SPACE were customary and enjoyable, but the sinking feeling in my gut had already settled too deeply. The rest of the show was filled with songs I truly love. All of them soared with energy. And at times I was moderately transported, but that feeling in my gut that had settled there never left. It remained like a shroud over even the best moments. I was aware of trying to get rid of it, to let it go and enjoy being there, listening to live music again. But my attempt ultimately failed. I could not transcend the moment.

All of this is made even worse by the fact that I’ve been reliving the Grateful Dead’s Europe ’72 tour in its entirety thanks to the recent release of the entire tour on CD. This is widely considered the Grateful Dead’s best tour ever. And I wouldn’t argue that. So much so that the set list from ’87 just seems downright lazy by comparison. A friend of mine also in attendance pointed out that DSO could have played any show from ’65 through the first half of ’79 and you wouldn’t hear a single song that would disappoint. The same can’t be said for any show post.

The only criticism I have of DSO as a band is that, now with the inclusion of Jeff Mattson -who I must say is an amazing guitarist and about the best replacement for former lead-guitarist John Kadlecik that one could imagine– this incarnation of the band seems intent on bringing every song to its highest peak. And they’re damn good at doing it. But there’s something almost “manufactured” in their doing so. As if subtlety and nuance were not quite as important as blowing minds. It happened so much that it ceased to be special and started to feel too easy. It didn’t feel organic. It wasn’t the music playing the band. This felt pre-planned in some way. Now that may not be accurate to what was actually taking place for the musicians, but it was my experience. Sometimes making a song “explode” is not the best thing for the soul of the music. But I’m just an audience member and probably one of the few who didn’t walk out of the El Rey last night satisfied. It is my personal cross to bear, I suppose. Again, it’s what I want that is not always in sync with what DSO is offering. That is no fault of theirs. That’s all on me and I take full responsibility for it.

I wish in the future I could know whether DSO were going to play a show from an era I want to travel back in time and experience, or whether they’re recreating an era I need not revisit. That would help me decide whether or not I need attend, to avoid disappointment or embrace that which I love and yearn for. But such things are not the way of the world. So I must take my chances, make my decisions. Perhaps I’ll just see DSO every other year and hope for the best.

Weathering The Storm Of Disappointment: When DSO Doesn’t Turn The Clock Back Far Enough

DSO Does The Shrine ’78

Jeff Mattson made his Los Angeles debut as the lead guitarist/singer for Dark Star Orchestra Friday December 3rd, 2010 at the El Rey Theatre. My favorite venue to see this incredible band was the perfect setting for Mattson’s introduction to Angeleno Dead Heads and DSO Heads alike. I’ve been listening to Mattson’s work within this incarnation of the band and have been wildly impressed. But nothing I heard came close to seeing these folks work their magic in a live setting. No recording can do it justice.

I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it here: Dark Star Orchestra is the closest thing to the real Grateful Dead experience I have ever come across. At times DSO even one-ups the boys, particularly when recreating shows from the late-80’s and 90’s when the Dead themselves had clearly moved beyond their prime. Luckily for me, however, DSO recreated a GD show from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles originally performed on January 10th, 1978, one of my favorite years out of the 30 they played. The set list was as follows:

Set One: Bertha > Good Lovin’ ; Brown Eyed Women ; Mexicali Blues > Me And My Uncle ; Friend Of The Devil ; Cassidy ; Candyman ; Passenger ; Sunrise ; Deal > The Music Never Stopped

Set Two: Jack Straw ; It Must Have Been The Roses ; Estimated Prophet > He’s Gone > Drums > The Other One > Wharf Rat > Franklin’s Tower > Around And Around

Encore: U.S. Blues

DSO added one more song as filler, something they do quite often. On this night, we got keyboardist Rob Baracco recreating Pigpen’s “Mr. Charlie.” The perfect topper to a perfect evening.

Mattson’s an interesting fellow to watch. His seemingly expressionless features can quite suddenly transform into a wide, buck-toothed grin as he –and us– are caught in a moment of uncontrolled ecstasy. Simply put, Mattson is a joy to watch and the music that rolls effortlessly off his fingertips lifts the very floor beneath your feet. And the rest of the band grin right alongside him as the music crescendos again and again, spreading irrepressible smiles through the audience until the whole joint is dancing wild, screams of joy bursting into the air, hairs standing on end. It is one of the great moments in life that remind you just what an amazing experience we are capable of achieving here on this earth.

It is truly a gift. And just in time for Chanukah. :)

I recorded most (though sadly not all) of the second set on my iPhone. It’s far from great quality and I’ll be replacing it with better as soon as something shows up on Archive.org or elsewhere. But in the meantime, this will have to do. And I apologize for the loud woman who appears periodically throughout the recording. She was a sweetheart, but she must have been feeling A.D.D. this night as she rarely stopped talking or moving. She loved the music, but being able to concentrate on it for more than a few seconds at a time was not her strong suit. That said, she had a good time and couldn’t have been nicer. The recording, however, picks her up like another member of the band. And a less talented one, I’m afraid. But that’s the live concert-going experience, warts and all, as it were. Nonetheless, it felt like family in there and, though I arrived alone, I never for a moment felt it. And this woman helped make that possible for me and for that I am grateful.

If you’d like to listen to the second set from Estimated Prophet on, you can get an mp3 HERE.

In addition, here are some vids I also took with my iPhone. Excuse the jerky nature of the image. I was dancing, dontcha know. Make sure you check out THE MUSIC NEVER STOPPED. One of the best I’ve seen. Ever.

DSO Does The Shrine ’78