Sunday, March 29, 2015

Pine Hill Project in Cambridge

Richard Shindell is an all-star and a triple-threat folk musician: songwriting, guitar, and voice.  Some of his best work has been with accompaniment by another all-star, Lucy Kaplansky.  I heard that those two had finally united for a project, and then heard that the two of them were playing in Cambridge with Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams, who are way up on my list of all-stars themselves.

Club Passim was hosting them, but the concert was at the historic First Parish Church in Cambridge, right on the corner of Church Street in Harvard Square.  Another case of getting tickets as soon as possible of course.

The Pine Hill Project's record came out in the meantime, produced by Larry naturally, and with him all over it.  I heard Shindell interviewed on WUMB a few days before the concert.  Dave Palmatier asked him where the name came from, and Shindell talked about Thoreau saying that he "Needed to climb up on the Pine Hill" to clear his mind.  Thoreau meant this metaphorically.  He went on to say that as an individual, he felt he should be able to "find a Pine Hill within myself."  Shindell also said that he (not Thoreau) was a Deadhead (when asked about their cover of I Know You Rider).

Anyway, we had an early Saturday dinner at Russell House Tavern in HSq and then sauntered over to the church well before the doors opened, only to find 50 people already in line!  Made it in eventually and went right up to the front, where there were unaccounted-for seats in the first pew ... which we grabbed.  Campbell and Williams came out for a first set with Jeffrey Hill, who was filling in for the AWOL Byron Isaacs.

They were fantastic.  Larry had several acoustic guitars on stage and stuck to them, while Teresa played some fine rhythm.  They did If I Had My Way, Lamps Trimmed and Burning, several originals we hadn't heard (they have an album coming out in June), a Louvin Brothers song, Big River, and were just absolutely excellent.  We talked to Kate and Mager at the break and they were gobstruck, especially by Teresa's emoting on Lamps, which we'd seen on display at the Lesh and Friends concerts last year.

Then the break and finally Richard and Lucy came on and I have to say their set did not meet expectations.  There were some great moments, like Larry playing some fantastic mandolin on Wichita (the Welch song), Lucy's new song Reunion, Richard's re-imagined Are You Happy Now, the beautiful Rain Just Falls, etc.  But there was lots of boring tuning, slow song after slow song, Richard practicing his electric guitar licks on stage instead of sticking to what he does well, a laborious Next Best Western, and more tuning.

Don't get me wrong, the set was delightful, though it was below my expectations.  Richard and Lucy sound so good together it's criminal, and Larry is just a marvel, taking over Wichita and many other songs on mandolin, rocking out on guitar, and playing some of the best, most ethereal pedal steel I've ever heard.  Another highlight was Lucy's Ten Year Night, which is a fabulous song ... those two have written some of the best modern folk songs.  But this was another slow dirge and what we needed was some pep, especially in a hot and stuffy church on a Saturday night with our pews getting more and more uncomfortable.

They finally concluded with what we'd been waiting all night to hear: their cover of I Know You Rider.  Again, done very well, featuring some technically fantastic leads from Larry, but done slowly.  Larry tried to get a jam going and did for a while; Lucy almost had to push him out of the way so she could get back to the mike and sing another verse when what this needed was some freelancing.  Oh well.

They brought Teresa out with them for the encore: Greg Brown's Oh Lord I Have Made You a Place In My Heart.  More excellence here: Teresa fit incredibly tastefully between Richard and Lucy, possibly channeling Dar Williams from the Cry Cry Cry record.  But this wasn't quite the rocker we were hoping for ... oh well again.  They were done and left the stage to a fitting standing ovation, this was a band of all-stars after all and though I may grouse, there was a ton of excellence shown.

Long walk back up Mass Ave. to our parking spot, but there are signs that another brutal New England winter may be on its last legs, and it was Saturday night!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Dave and Phil Alvin in Cambridge

Dave and Phil Alvin were so off-the-charts fantastic at GRF last summer, and when we saw they were playing Sinclair in Cambridge, we grabbed tickets immediately.  Made it to busy Harvard Square on the first full day of Spring and were able to squeeze into the parking lot on Church Street, then get in line at the club.  We looked around when we got inside but finally figured what the heck, we were going to stand in front of the stage, right between the brothers.

The Far West opened and played a rocking, tight set that warmed up our eardrums, including a Hank Williams song.  Dave came out to join them for the last number, Townes' White Freightliner, which they killed!

Then one more beer and the place was suddenly packed, squishing us a bit up against the stage.  Dave and Phil came out with Dave's ace band of Lisa Pancratz, Brad Fordham, and Chris Miller, and they proceeded to tear the place up.  The band was on like you wouldn't believe, Phil was doing his jaw-dropping vocals, and Dave was as supreme as ever on the blues-rock guitar.

We were so close to Dave (basically 2 feet when he was at his mike), that we could see details of his guitar style.  He had a thumbpick that he plucked with his forefinger, and used two other fingers to pick the higher notes.  He had three tight rings on his right hand that looked functional (as well as stylistic), helping him keep his fingers stiff.  The nails on his left hand were all polished and cut short, helping with his quick precision on the fretboard.

Phil played acoustic guitar on most numbers, but pulled the harps out of jacket and jeans pockets and wailed away, trying to make as much noise as his younger brother.  At some points when he was really blowing you could see the glands on his lean neck puffing up bigger and bigger.

And the band was having such a great night, this was incredible stuff.  Lisa for one was having a fantastic night, and actually smiled and bowed to the crowd, as opposed to the stiff manner she had shown when we'd seen her before.  I think they really appreciated to reception they got from the full room of people.  Kate came up front for a few numbers and we all heckled Dave ... he loved it.

We picked up a setlist from the stage after the show, but they digressed a bit here and there.  I think this one is accurate:

All By Myself
I Feel So Good
Key To The Highway
You've Changed
How You Want It Done?
Southern Flood Blues
Border Radio
Out of Control
The Stuff They Call Money
Truckin' Little Woman
What's Up With Your Brother?
Please, Please, Please
Dry River
One Bad Stud

Encore:
Johnny Ace Is Dead
Marie, Marie
Break On Through To The Other Side
So Long Baby Goodbye

I was glad to hear so many old Blasters songs, in particular Border Radio, and One Bad Stud from the Streets of Fire soundtrack (actually a Leiber-Stoller song).  Phil just killed the James Brown song Please Please Please ... possibly the highlight of the night.  They of course rocked out on Dry River and gave Lisa a break for an excellent drum solo.

We were pleased with the long encore.  I called Marie Marie, which was not tough to do :) ... a classic case of Dave writing a song for his older brother's excellent vocal instrument.  Break On Through was actually just a band-introduction interlude, interspersed with a few Doors lyrics.  Then they rocked out one more time and Dave and Phil posed for the crowd and then left while the band went on and on, finally finishing with a flourish.  They're off to the Iron Horse tonight and then to Australia and New Zealand, which I hope is ready for them!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Fare Thee Well buildup, part 1??

As mentioned, the Grateful Dead (or at least Phil, Bobby, Billy, and Mickey) announced in January that they will be doing a 50th anniversary, final three concerts over the 4th of July weekend in Soldier Field, Chicago, with Trey Anastasio, Bruce Hornsby, and Jeff Chimenti.  The event is being billed as "Fare Thee Well."  But of course, this announcement immediately raised a number of questions such as:

  • only three shows??
  • only Chicago?
  • only Anastasio?  why??
  • what about Tom Constanten and Donna Godchaux (who are also surviving members)?
  • will there be special guests?
  • how much do I have to pay?
  • do they realize what a big deal this is and how many people will do ridiculous things to attend?

Answers to some of these questions have been forthcoming.  They claim these 3 shows in Chicago are it, though people continue to doubt that.  They’ve mentioned that any choice of guitarist would be second-guessed and this is as good as any.  BUT, they seem not to have been prepared for the incredible ticket frenzy this announcement has created.

Their first round of tickets was offered through mail order and they got over 400K requests.  The Dead ticket office has expressed dumbfoundedness at this, saying that this is “many, many times the number we expected.”  I think most people in Deaddom would have anticipated this, but not them??

In the meantime, we decided that even though the price would be high, we wanted to go and would try for a couple of the hotel/ticket packages they were offering.  We planned to drive and Ricky planned to fly from Denver.  The subsequent swamping of the GD TOO with mail orders caused them to delay both the internet sales of the packages and the “general public” internet sale, and so we had to wait on the edge of our seats, counting down the days until February 27th.

I worked at home that morning and was set up with three computers with 7 open browser sessions as the 10AM CST on-sale time approached.  5 of my sessions crashed with server errors up to 15 minutes *before* the sale opened.  2 sessions were able to get through to their index page and I could click through to the individual pages offering room/ticket choices.  However, every choice I made returned a “no rooms available” message, which I interpreted as a database-too-busy error.  I kept on clicking and clicking, hoping to get a request accepted, but no such luck.  Eventually most of the pages returned “sold out.”

Finally after 50 minutes or so, the organizers (CID Entertainment) sent an email with direct links to the room selection forms for those who had been unable to get through at all.  But by that point everything was sold out, including the VERY expensive super-vip packages.  I read later that the available packages had sold out in 1 minute!

Originally we’d said that we were only interested in going if we could get a hotel package.  But we talked and agreed that we should try for any tickets in the general public sale the next morning, and worry about where to stay if we could get them.

On Saturday morning (2/28), Dave, Sarah, and I were each at our computers with a 4th open on my desk.  We were ready when the sale started, and were hoping to get 4 tickets for each day.  Dave tried to get Friday tickets, Sarah Saturday, and me Sunday and also 3-day passes on the other computer.  This sale was handled by Ticketmaster and they have a robust queuing system for frantic ticket sales.  But when we submitted our requests as fast as we could, we still got “over 15 minute wait” messages right away.

Dave and Sarah’s requests for Friday and Saturday never went through … their pages must have timed out and died though they never got error messages.  My Sunday requests were denied a few times (“no tickets available at this time, try again”) after long waits and I eventually gave up.

My 3-day requests on 2 browser sessions did finally get through!  But the tickets we were offered both times were in section 356, way up in the stratosphere to the back left of the stage, and were listed with a “these seats have no view of the stage” warning.  The organizers had decided to sell seats in the whole stadium instead of just seats with a view (“go 360”) and even these seats were around $60 plus fees.

We agonized about it for a few minutes while the “you have ?? seconds left to buy these tickets or you will lose them” ticker counted down.  But we finally decided to decline.  We were so psyched to go see the concert, but when we visualized showing up with that level of psych for three days in Chicago and then getting such disappointing seats in the far reaches of a football stadium where we’d just have to sit and watch the TV screens, we decided to stay home and hope for a more local option for watching it remotely.  We were ready to spend a lot of money on going, but the worth of it with just those tickets plummeted in our minds.  We’d been very excited about the experience, but realized that without the payoff of seeing the stage we might be very disappointed.  And we did not want to spend that much money/effort for an ultimately disappointing/frustrating experience, even though I’m sure it would have featured plenty of positive moments too.  Sure, we could have left the seats and tried to hang out in the concourse, but we realized thousands of others would be trying this and it would not be a mellow experience … in fact it might get nasty.

The sale ended and the reports about what had just happened (and the aftermath) started.  Not only had the hotel packages sold out in a minute, according to Ticketmaster the queue when the sales opened on Saturday had reached 500,000 requests, a new Ticketmaster record.  Since then the secondary market has been going crazy.  Reliable sources have reported that a ticket package was on sale for $1 million, and are currently reporting that 3-day tickets (for good seats) are going for as much as $116,000, and cheap individual tickets are averaging $1,350.

This means I could have bought those tickets and resold them at minimal hassle (at this date, Ticketmaster for one makes it very easy … just log in to your account and click “resell my tickets” and name your price … they get 10% of the price).  I could have easily sold the 24 tickets (8 tickets for 3 days) for $1000 each, even though they were “no view.”  When I log on to secondary sale sites now I see tickets in section 356 going for that price.  But I’m very glad I didn’t do that.  We decided that we would have been disappointed with those seats for this marvelous event, and we did the right thing to let other people snap them up.  This was not the time to enter the rip-off culture … though a profit of $22.5K for an hour’s work is pretty good (the 3-day tickets for 4 seats were @$755)!

So we’re going through stages of shock and rationalization, as are many, many other Deadheads all over the world.  Billboard reports that they would estimate ticket demand “in the millions.”  I think it’s clear that the Dead could have gone on a lengthy farewell tour and sold out football stadia all over the country.  But this isn’t happening.

People at the Dead50 site are in shock too, as I say.  But their last update says, “If you do not have tickets, please know that we are working on various ways to help everyone experience these shows in a way that will help you share this special moment with us.”  We think it possible that they will offer closed-circuit simulcasts at select theaters throughout the country, possibly in Boston, but more likely in Port Chester NY, where we’ve been recently to see P&F.  So we’re staying tuned!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

JRAD Paradise

In my mind at this point, Joe Russo is perhaps the best rock drummer I've ever heard.  And I've had the privilege of seeing him a good number of times, sitting in with the Levon Helm Band, with Furthur, and with Phil and Friends.  Lately he's formed his own band, Joe Russo's Almost Dead (a.k.a. JRAD) with long-time keyboard companion Marco Benevento, guitarists Tom Hamilton and Scott Metzger, and bassist Dave Dreiwitz.

We saw them over New Year's on webcast, playing at the Capitol in Port Chester with Phil Lesh substituting for Dreiwitz, (billed as PhilRAD) and we were VERY impressed.  At that point we knew they were coming to the Paradise Rock Club in Boston on February 6th, and after seeing the webcast there was no question but that we were going.

A huge development in the Dead world happened in the meantime too, the original group announcing a last series of concerts in July ... hopefully we can get tickets and there'll be more on that later.  But Dead-dom is operating at fever pitch these days, and the Paradise show sold out, as had numerous other dates on the tour, such as Higher Ground (Burlington VT) the night before.

We've been inundated by snow in New England this winter, and I knew there was next to no chance of finding a parking space in Allston on a Friday night with the streets so clogged, so met Sarah and Dave at their building and parked there.  We had dinner at Scollay Square and took the B branch of the Green Line from Park Street up to the Pleasant Street stop, along with hordes of people much closer to Dave's age than ours.

And to set the scene even more I need to say how brutal this winter has been so far and how fresh our memories were of going to Alston for a concert last winter and freezing to death.  We were all wearing extra clothes but knew that we were likely in for a very cold experience, especially waiting for the T in the middle of the night.  Winter was trying to scare us into staying inside and was almost succeeding!

But when we got off at Pleasant Street the hordes did not follow us, the weather seemed less threatening than it had out the windows of the train, and on the entrance to the club it said "open door," though nobody was there.  So we did, and walked right in to a deserted Paradise ... deserted that is except for a few guys schlepping cases of beverages to stock the bars, and the band doing sound check!!!!!  We walked right in to hear them kill The Wheel in that weird, empty room, and then practice a couple of other things, like a bit of Terrapin.  An assistant passed out cheat sheets to them all for what was apparently an original, but they had their problems with it and didn't play it in the show.

Geez, were we allowed there?  The beverage guys were smiling at us and the band was not bothered by us, so we hung out for a while wondering what was going on, but enjoying the moment.  Then a big bouncer guy yelled at us (though he knew it was his fault for leaving the door unattended), and ushered us into the bar to hang out for official doors-open.  The website had indicated the show started at 8 and the doors were open an hour before that, so we had shown up right around 7.  Actually the website apparently meant that doors were at 8 ... the show started at 9.  But that mixup was OK, especially since we'd had such a magical moment.  We hung out at the bar and had a couple of beers.

We were some of the first people in at 8, and we moved immediately to find a good spot upstairs.  They'd marked off a couple of areas as reserved near the soundboard, but we still got a very good spot up there and watched the crowd pour in.  Soon the place was packed and rocking.  People eventually showed up for the reserved corral in front of us, and some of them spent a lot of the evening talking and giggling, but some of them were obviously there for the music and were distressed by their silly companions.  In all, the crowd was definitely dominated by serious Deadheads, as proved by conversations between sets and in the men's room.  People were familiar with what they had played the night before, what opinions about they might/should play next, and everybody had their mind on Chicago in July.  One guy in the men's room confessed that his mail order ticket request had just been turned down, and we were all chilled by that.  Hope that doesn't happen to us!


So how was the show?  It was awesome!!  Russo was playing a larger kit than I've ever seen him play, with all the trimmings.  He had eight drums including one small one that was almost a conga, four cymbals including a HUGE one that actually made kind of a tinny noise, a couple of electronic pads, a cowbell array, a tambourine stand, and of course his assortment of things to shake and then throw behind him, sticks, mallets, and brushes, and a overhead mike he could pull forward to sing into and then shove out of the way when he wanted to get down to some serious percussion.  And he was leading the band of course, counting off the changes into the in-ear-monitor system, holding up his sticks and/or pointing to get the interludes when he wanted them, and grinning like a banshee!

Besides Russo, the player of the night was Benevento, who as I say had impressed us mightily in the New Year's shows.  He only had two electric keyboards rather than the B3/Leslie setup we'd seen before, and he stood in front of it all evening.  And he ripped off some of the funkiest and rocking-est and spaciest keyboard leads we'd heard.  His technique was incredible too, sometimes crossing over hands for extended stretches, and often dancing between both keyboards and playing them at once.

And I don't mean to slight the strings players.  Tom Hamilton was incredibly impressive himself and contributed hot, jazzy lead after lead.  Metzger was the surprise of the night for me, as he took some fine leads himself, contributed rocking rhythm, and did some fine vocals.  I hadn't seen Dreiwitz before (remember Phil?), but he was solid.  Actually the vocals could have been better, but everyone contributed and they were not bad, interspersed with some good moments.

Here's the first set, with notes from their FB page:

China Cat Sunflower * (TH) >
I Know You Rider (All)
Easy Wind (SM) >
Viola Lee Blues # (All)
Althea $ (TH) >
Let It Grow (SM)

* With "Truckin'" Tease (SM)
# With "Cumberland Blues" & "China Cat Sunflower" Teases / Jams (TH)
$ With "All of My Love" (Led Zep) Teases (MB)

This was fantastic.  Easy Wind had some incredible funk to it, especially Metzger's leads.  Viola Lee was loud and long and had the whole building throbbing.  The note is correct to our ears, they seemed to be trying to decide whether to play Cumberland or Viola Lee and settled on the latter.  And then the Let It Grow was beyond epic ... this must have been a half hour itself, and had us all enthralled.

Lots of joy, long piss lines, crowd confusion in a packed house, and gushing at the set break, and then the second set:

Bird Song % (TH) >
Playing In The Band (SM) >
Eyes Of The World (TH) >
The Wheel (All) >
Uncle John's Band (All) >
Terrapin Station Suite (TH)

% With "China Cat Sunflower" & "Dark Star" Teases / Jams (TH)
Uncle John's Band & Not Fade Away were not on the set list as written.
Entire 2nd set was seamlessly played from beginning to end, with numerous extended segues.

Again, the notes were correct to our ear.  They came out and jammed and seemed to be deciding whether they really wanted to play Dark Star or Bird Song.  I thought they had just settled on Dark Star when the bass dropped into Bird Song and they were off.  Great stuff!!!  And then to go into a hot PITB dominated by Russo, then an Eyes where Benevento took us to another planet and beyond, then the song we'd heard them practicing when we showed up.  We just loved it.

And then they found themselves in UJB when they apparently hadn't anticipated it and shrugged as a band and went at it!  This was beautiful and heartfelt.  We thought they were going to then finish The Wheel, which they never did [later note: they finished it in Portland the next night], though they did finish UJB eventually.  But then they went into Terrapin and no prisoners were taken.  This was where they wanted to be and they stayed in the Terrapin world for a long, long time while the room rocked and reeled and melted around them.


The band was billed as Joe's band, and it sure was.  As mentioned over and over, I think he's one of the best musicians playing, and he proceeded to take Terrapin into a drum zone where we'd never been before.  When we finally got to Tom and band singing the "spiral light of Venus" verse there was not a person in the house who wasn't riveted on Joe and following his every move.  And then another change ... and then he grabbed the mike, beat the drums, and went into Terrapin Flyer!!  As mentioned, the place was packed with knowledgeable Deadheads and this development was greeted with the enthusiasm it warranted.  The three of us were in ecstasy I can tell you.

They left the stage after that and after a bit came back for the encore: Not Fade Away (see note above).  They did the cheesy crowd-participation bit and to a purist might have seemed to have gotten a bit big for their britches to finish like they *were* the Dead or Furthur.  But what the heck, this was another great vehicle to show off Joe's prowess on the drums, and a great way to send us into the night.  Joe was a great bandleader to the end and thanked the band by name and the crowd for a brilliant night.  They must be so excited to be selling out shows ... on to the State Theater in Portland tonight!!!

We gathered ourselves and took last bathroom visits before going out into the cold night.  And we realized it was already after 1AM!  We had to thread through a gauntlet of people doing nitrous out of huge, colorful balloons on the Comm Ave sidewalk; a couple of guys had tanks out there and were passing out balloons, probably for a price ... they must have been dentists trying to drum up business.

The T took forever to show up and we were pretty numb by then.  The cars were packed with people a third my age, going somewhere. Half the jammed and slow train got off at Boylston and the rest at Park, and we managed to make it up the hill and over to the garage, and then drive home.  Got to bed by a little after 2:30, which was extreme but what a fucking concert we'd just seen!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Patriots Win 2015 Super Bowl!

I haven't been blogging about another of my great interests: spectator sports.  I'm an across-the-board New England fan of course.  But I have to type a note about my reaction yesterday when the Patriots won the Super Bowl.

The heroic Patriots took the lead, the first team in history to come back from 10 points down in the second half of a Super Bowl.  But then Seattle was driving back, and there was an incredible circus catch from Jermaine Kearse.  My intent isn't to describe what happened ... I'm sure you can look it up.  But my reaction was studied from years and years of suffering as a sports fan, that the fates were conspiring against us and that this was just like what had happened with Tyree Davis in the 2008 Super Bowl, etc., etc.  Marshawn Lynch, the beast who could not be stopped in that game, as beasts had dominated so many games before, took it to the 18-inch line.

But then Seattle threw and Malcolm Butler, a rookie from a Division 2 school, stepped up and intercepted it.  "I had a vision," he said.  I jumped out of my chair and shouted, "INTERCEPTED!!!"  The Patriots won the Super Bowl.

Is there a lesson in this?  I don't think so.  The point is that sports can be incredibly, incredibly dramatic.  And that that drama can be incredibly addictive.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Junior Brown at Johnny D's

I'd wanted to see Junior Brown for years, and won tickets from Cousin Kate to go see him at Johnny D's on January 17th!  We usually try to get a table when we go there, but they were all taken ... Junior has a devoted following. So we showed up right before show time and were able to grab a good piece of floor, leaning back against the wall across from the ticket table.

Lyle Brewer was the first opener and did some great Chet Atkins channeling (including one Atkins song) on solo guitar.  Tony Savarino was up next with a full band (the Savtones, keys, bass, and drums), and thrilled us with some fantastic blues/rock guitar, wonderful leads.

Junior was up next with his wife on rhythm of course, and a solid rockabilly bass and drums backbone.  He did a long set, naturally highlighted by Highway Patrol ("I'm just doing my job"), and closing with Hang Up and Drive.

As mentioned, Johnny D's was pretty full, but the strangest part of the crowd scene was that the dance floor was packed, but these people were not dancing.  There were about 30 large middle-aged (and older) guys with flannel shirts just standing on the floor.  The only movement from them was every once in a while one would bob his head to the beat.  I figured the story was that they were technical music fans.  Junior plays a homemade instrument, his "guit-steel," which is a telecaster-style on top and a lap steel on the bottom, and he's a wizard with it.  These guys were there to watch that.

Had a great time but then left before the late night act, through a rocking Davis Square and back up College Avenue to where we had managed to snag a parking place on the street.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Tedeschi Trucks Tear Down HOB Boston

When we heard that Tedeschi Trucks Band would be playing the House Of Blues, we started salivating, knowing that this would be a heaping helping of wonderful sound.  I guess a lot of people thought so, because both nights sold out quickly and resale tickets were hard to come by.  We resold an extra we had, and it went in a matter of minutes.

Met Sarah at the HOB restaurant after cruising around the block and not finding a legal space (there were plenty of illegal ones), and ending up in the same old lot at the corner of Van Ness.  Sarah was able to get perhaps the last table in the restaurant and it was already a madhouse two hours before the Friday show, December 12th.  We got food and beer somehow, then got in what was already a long line for the people who had gotten entrees (and so early admission) at 6:45 or so ... the line for real admission was already almost up to Brookline Ave.

They let us in right at 7 and we were able to grab our customary place to the left of the stage ... and another beer/cider.  The HOB filled up really quickly and we were all totally pumped, some more juiced than others but what the hell, it was Friday night!

Soulive opened and really blew me away with some excellent blues-funk.  The band is drums, guitar, and keys, and they played a loud, spacey, bluesy, colorful set of instrumentals, including a riff on McCartney's Eleanor Rigby.  I was hanging on their every note and the crowd was too for their first number or so, then started gabbing and by the end of their set was almost as loud as they were.  Such is the fate for opening acts at HOB.

Then they changed the set to the traditional Tedeschi Trucks setup, and soon Derek, Susan, and the guys came out and proceeded to exceed my expectations.

I'd never seen Derek from so close and he was riveting, displaying mastery of technique and inspiration from both hands, particularly his right,  He played the top string-and-a-half with his thumb and the rest with his fingers, striking and caressing and plucking them like he was defusing a bomb or holding hands with a child or giving the other driver a few hand signals.  A musician can exude mastery of his instrument, and his mastery was comparable to what I'd seen from Garcia.

Susan was worth the price of admission herself and shone on several vocal parts.  Not to mention the other 9 people in the band, who all took their chances to prove that they were excellent musicians too.  It's amazing that a band that large has stuck together for so long ... I think their personnel is what it was when we first saw them in 2011.  I think they all know that they can do magic together and they like to do that.  Here's the set list:

Are You Ready
Made Up Mind
Do I Look Worried
Midnight in Harlem
Let Me Get By
Part of Me
Don't Miss Me
Idle Wind
Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning
Shelter
Break In The Road
Anyhow
I Pity the Fool
Keep on Growing
The Storm

Encore:
Night Time Is the Right Time
Palace of the King

The first four songs just blew the crowd away and we were putty in their hands after that.  Idle Wind was another highlight for me, and then they reconfigured for a couple of acoustic songs, starting with Derek doing acoustic slide and Susan wailing away on a fantastic arrangement of Lamps Trimmed and Burning.

No Anyday (I'd love to hear them do that again), but they covered Keep On Growing and the place was rocking so hard it was threatening to burst at the seams for that.  Short break before the encore, and then they brought out the Soulive guys for the second encore.  They were delighted, as were we!

Took a while for the place to empty out and we just mellowed a bit, being Friday night.  Then a convoluted ride home as Storrow Drive was jammed and we reversed direction.  Great night!