Sunday, August 21, 2016

Fighting the Tide in Ipswich

You've gotta time the tide right if you're going to kayak in Plum Island Sound, and I pretty much did yesterday.  I put in at the Ipswich Town Landing, which was already almost full of cars (one was stuck on the launch ramp) by 11:00.  Had an excellent trip out the river, though some of the roaring motorboats had no clue about staying in the channel.  [Overheard from one boat, "It gets shallow on the edges here."  "Then stay in the middle."  Did they ever wonder what those red and black buoys were for?]

By the time I got to the mouth of the river though, I had to really fight the tide to get out into the bay.  The shore South of the river was filled with beach-goers, many of whom had arrived there by boat.  It was a glorious day to be at the beach or on the water and the whole area was a mess of boats and chop, particularly with the current stirring up the water.

And it *was* water!  The drought we've been living through lately has been depressing and I've hesitated to go kayaking on the rivers, since they're so low.  My heart rises when I see full bodies of water, or high tide.  It was wonderful to be out on the ocean and to be reminded that water is neither created nor destroyed, to see the blue goodness flooding the salt marsh.

After struggling out past Castle Hill I turned around and let the tide rip me back to the North, and then, assisted with a few strokes of the paddle, back into the maw of the river.  Made it back to the landing with the tide a little bit before full flood.  Put up quickly and not only were there cars waiting to take my parking place, people with trailers had parked all over the road around there by that point, some in people's yards.  Full day at the shore!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Ol' Brown Shoe Early Show

Late afternoon decision to brave the drive to Salem on a Friday night and go hear Ol' Brown Shoe at the Black Lobster.  They were playing the early show (7-10:30) before the reggae band upstairs. and the late evening August weather on the waterfront in Salem was delightful, as well as the music of course.

Drummer Kevin has split for Colorado, and so old drummer Jack Howard filled in, which was quite a treat.  Tim continues to get more and more comfortable with the band, and of course Larry was great!

Stuck around for both sets and some nice conversations with other fans and with the band.  Lots of fun again!  Here's the set list ... note that the second set was cut short to make way for the upstairs band:

I: Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard, Sample in a Jar, Ramble On Rose, I Shot the Sheriff, Samson and Delilah, That's What Love Will Make You Do, Let It Grow > Dancing In the Street, Ramblin' Man > Bertha

II: In the Midnight Hour, Loose Lucy, The Other One, The Weight*, Feelin' Alright, Birds Of a Feather, Sugar Magnolia.

* - Allegra Larson on Vocals

A couple of notes were that I mentioned Me and Julio to JeffL before the set, and he was nice enough to have the band open with it.  Tim did the vocal on Dancing and sang "They're dancing in Beverly" before realizing that we were not in Beverly ... so he corrected with "They're dancing on the bridge."  Note that the patio at the Black Lobster looks up to the superstructure of the bridge between Beverly (where they often play) and Salem, so this was a good catch.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

GGW at BMH One More Time


It’s weird for a Grateful Dead fan to say he gets tired of the same old songs :) … I don’t, but it’s so fun to hear twists on them.  As mentioned before in this blog, it’s great to hear good ol’ GD songs given a facelift by younger musicians like Elana James (Ripple), Dave Alvin (Loser), the entire Songs Of Their Own series, etc.  And leading the charge are JRAD and Golden Gate Wingmen.  So we were very excited to get the chance to go see GGW again at the Brighton Music Hall on Saturday, August 13th.

Brighton was just on the cusp on the annual student invasion, but we were able to grab a fortunate parking space (no ticket this time) on a hot and humid summer day and had a pretty good dinner and some excellent beers in a frosty Sunset Grill.  Then a few doors down to the BMH where this time, even 30 minutes before the doors opened, we were 30th or so in what was rapidly becoming a long line.  Guess the word has gotten out about them!

We wanted to situate ourselves where we could see Jeff Chimenti’s fingering well, but a quick hop around the stage showed no great place, so we settled for second row, behind a couple from Fairfield CT who were on a brief GGW tour (Pawtucket the next night) right in front of the stage.

Had a beer and got a t-shirt and then Sarah came running in with the news that John and Jeff were joining the crowd for a break in the smoking area.  You can believe Dave was out there in a flash and was able to share a few mellow moments with John and Jeff out back.

Then he came back, the guys came on a little late, and they proceeded to rip up the place, which was packed by that point.  There's an excellent recording of it on IA.  Here’s the first set:

  • Nobody Told Me
  • Brown-Eyed Woman
  • Seen Love
  • Just Like a Woman
  • Lazy River Road
  • The Business
  • Loser
  • Feel Like Dynamite

We’d seen the first three songs done by the JK Band at BMH a few months before this (in a different order), but were not really upset by the duplication … John can play BEW every time I see him as far as I’m concerned.  Reed Mathis was obviously a bit high, and though this meant he drifted at times, he was playing and singing with the fierce abandon that’s so captivating about his performances.  Jay Lane was perhaps the player of the day, perhaps the best performance of his I’d seen, and I’d seen some good ones.  So the whole experience was excellent!

Of particular note in that first set were a fantastic vocal by Reed on Just Like a Woman … he’s born to sing Dylan songs; a beautiful, slow, meander through summer down the Lazy River Road; and a crunchy, threatening, desperate, psychedelic cover of one of Garcia’s best songs, Loser.  And then we all grooved into the set break, feeling like dynamite, rocking to Jeff’s milking the organ like Saunders used to do.

We suddenly realized we were standing in a puddle of beer, and when the crowd dispersed a little we saw that the whole Brighton Music Hall was a mess of drunk and high people and their detritus.  Saturday night had come quickly.  Not too long a set break … though it was after 11 by the time they came back on.  Oh well, time for the second set:

  • She Belongs to Me
  • Golden Wings
  • Dark Star >
  • Join Together >
  • Dark Star >
  • Estimated Prophet >
  • Eyes of the World >
  • Touch of Grey

More excellence, starting with another fantastic Dylan song, sung as a duet by Reed and John.  At Christmas buy her a big bass drum!  We were delighted to get an off-the-reservation Dark Star done as differently as you might hope by this fine group of musicians … this was not just a cover.  And to jump into the Who’s Join Together in the middle of it showed their imagination.

But the best moments of the evening were yet to come in the perhaps formulaic combination of Estimated and Eyes.  The two were killed by Reed on wild-eyed prophet and John on blissed-out hippie, and featured amazing combination keyboard work by Jeff and Todd Stoops, a guest from the JK Band.  As mentioned, Touch, the set closer, is a song that doesn’t allow you to stray too far from normalcy, but they tried!

Short break, and then they came back out to encore with Liberty, another best of the best songs.  Lots of fun on a late summer Saturday night.  Home quickly up Everett Street to route 16, and you can bet I was glad to wash the spilled beer off my legs and feet when I got home.  In bed around 2.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Hot Tuna Leftover Salmon and Other Fish

Went to the Wilbur on a Sunday night (8/7) to see Leftover Salmon and electric Hot Tuna.  Barry wasn't with Hot Tuna, but Justin Guip was on drums.  They were awesome!

2016-08-07
Wilbur Theatre, Boston, MA

Serpent Of Dreams
Ode For Billy Dean
I Can't Be Satified
Sea Child
Sleep Song
Bowlegged Woman, Knock Kneed Man
Come Back Baby
99 Year Blues
Good Shepherd
Bar Room Crystal Ball
Water Song
Funky #7

Encore:
Hit Single #1

Leftover Salmon set included:
Demon In Disguise *

Lineup:
Jorma Kaukonen - guitar, vox
Jack Casady - bass
Justin Guip - drums

*w/ Jorma & Justin sitting in

Supporting act(s):
Leftover Salmon

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Larry and Teresa Steam Up Bull Run

It's been a great season for concerts, including Bob Weir guesting at Sir Paul's Fenway concert last weekend.  A review I read talks about the blessings bestowed on us this summer by certified rock royalty, such as Sir Paul.  Be that as it may ... and I can't imagine why I'd ever bad-mouth Paul McCartney ... one of the great things about great music is that it's ecumenical, democratic, expressive of the human spirit.  It isn't only dispensed by royalty.  And we were very glad after a foray into arena rock to get back to seeing the best artists of our generation in small venues.

Which brings me to seeing Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams at the Bull Run.  How could such an incredible act not be adored by the millions?  The Sawtelle Room at the Bull Run was two thirds full of  enthusiasts, but come on!  Oh well, one of the charming things about seeing an act like Larry and Teresa at a club in Shirley MA is that there's absolutely no pressure.  We all showed up on a Friday night and had a great time.

Picked up Sarah and Dave at West Concord and drove out there on a steamer of a mid-summer, New England night.  Ordered some great food and beer, talked with our table-mates, some of whom we'd met before at great Bull Run concerts (this was our 35th at the Bull Run by my count), and mellowed out in the air conditioning.  We stepped outside for a bit and Justin Guip was blabbing on his cell phone, Jesse Murphy (guest bassist) was doing some homework, listening to his ear buds on the bridge, and Larry in his black get-up was in his car texting and presumably roasting.  I went inside and headed to the bathroom, but Teresa jumped in front of me on her way to the lady's ... I almost followed her in.

They came on a bit late, as most acts do, though the room was more than primed for them.  No late arrivals here, we were all ready for the night.  They opened with a few numbers off their record (strange that they'd release a record last year and only tour for it now?!?) and ended up doing most of the numbers we'd expect from them in a short set, with a double encore.  For some reason, the sound wasn't great for the first few numbers, but then they got it straightened out with a bit of advice from the band.

As a listener pointed out, "Larry, the room's full of Deadheads heah!" A guy at our table recognized Dave's t-shirt from when Larry and Teresa played with Phil & Friends a few years ago.  The biggest whoops of the night were reserved for the "Dead" songs: Samson and Delilah (If I Had My Way), Deep Ellum Blues, Big River (an absolutely crackling version), and an encore of a song actually written by the Dead, their incredible a capella cover of Attics Of My Life.

But there was more for the Deadhead and music fan to go nuts over, such as Teresa belting out Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning, a tidy and precious rendition of Julie Miller's Midnight Highway (both of which we'd seen them do with Phil), and their top-of-the-heap (and it's a big heap) cover of the Louvin's You're Running Wild.  This was great stuff and the thing that had me riveted was watching Larry pick the country blues on his acoustic and his Telecaster while Guip and Teresa hammered and wailed behind him.  Again, how come the place was not full to see this stuff??

For me, the song of the night was Larry's If You Loved Me At All.  He's written some of the best stuff ever, and this was done perfectly.  Teresa has that twang (Larry: "I married Elly May Clampett, without the oil wells"), and Larry has that perfect, American, honest, gritty quality to his singing and playing.  He did a solo bit, where he picked out the tricky melody of Blind Mary from 18th century Irish harpist Turlough O'Carolan on his small acoustic, and then Duke Ellington's Caravan.

Another shorter than anticipated night at the Bull Run ... we'd all made it there on a Friday and were ready to go all night.  But the band wasn't; an act at this rank on the pecking order has to do a lot of traveling.  Larry and Teresa absorbed the accolades and tried to deal with the many requests (I shouted out for When I Go Away and the two looked at me like, "Thanks for the request but we're not ready to do that tonight," so I shouted out for Mountains Of the Moon, which made Teresa laugh (an obscure Dead song we'd seen them do with Phil)).

After the encore of Attics and Deep Ellum they signed for the crowds but we escaped into the steamy night and had a relatively quick ride back to Quincy and then to Woburn, making it home in time to go to bed by midnight.

Pictures here!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Dead At Fenway Park! Saturday

Yowza, time to truck into the city again and see Dead & Company at Fenway Park (7/16).  What a way to wake up!  We’d spent the morning downloading pictures and blogging and stuff, and had already downloaded and heard most of the show from Friday night by the time we had to leave.  The Friday show was great, perhaps the best of the tour so far, and the “second day” question was hanging over us … would the show tonight be as good?  You never know with the Dead.

Sarah and I parked in her building after a pretty quick trip in, and then had a slow, mellow walk through the Common, the Garden, and up the Commonwealth Mall, past the succession of iconic Boston sculptures to Hereford, than over to Boylston and up and across the Fens, including crossing the Muddy River.  It didn’t look black on that sunny afternoon, but had been in last night’s encore!

We waited in line at Yard House to show IDs and get wristbanded (the door on Van Ness was not open, you had to go through the front) and the place was already chock-full at 3:30!  They soon stopped letting people in because of fire codes, though Dave and friend Parker made it after taking the T from Quincy.  We had a leisurely late lunch and a few beers, conjectured about what we were about to see, and then headed over to the intersection of Yawkey Way (whilom Jersey Street) and Van Ness to meet friends.  We’d agreed to meet there at 5:30 and I was a few minutes late, but I then proceeded to stand in the middle of the intersection for about 20 minutes and no sight of them (though Scott and Michelle showed up)!  Oh well, not surprising that we had a hard time meeting up in a crowd like that.



And what a crowd it was.  By the end of the night, Fenway was packed as far as I could tell … don’t know if it was an official sellout [just saw on the Red Sox Facebook page that it was a sellout, except they apparently didn't sell the section under the press box?!?].  And this included all of the turf except for the stage and the grass part of the infield being covered with seats.  I’d guess that at least 40,000 people were there, possibly way more.  But back to the corner of Yawkey and Van Ness … after waiting for a while (and getting a t-shirt) we decided we’d better start in right away, knowing it might take a while.

Almost had to push our way down Van Ness to get to Gate B, but then entered and knew where to go.  It was just as much of a rush as it had been the day before to actually walk onto the field at Fenway.  Sarah and I took the time to tour around the field and she snapped pictures of me in front of the seat I was in when Dewey Evans caught a fly ball in my lap, and then posing at my shortstop position in front of the infield grass that was so perfect it had to be a painting.  Then made it to our seats in section B7, a few rows back and a few seats farther left than Friday, but essentially in the same spot.

BobR was sitting in front of us, totally unexpected!  We picked out W&L in their seats behind us and they eventually saw us too and waved.  At the break, Sarah found our friends F&P and B, though A was over sitting with their son behind the visitor’s dugout.  Again, Fenway Park was packed with friends … and then the band came on.



John was wearing a white t-shirt … guess his flirtation with picnic cloths was over.  The others were pretty much the same, though Bob’s hair was perhaps even more disheveled than it was Friday.  Hadn’t seen his stool before on the tour, but it was there last night.  He acted a bit tired at the end too, they are probably very glad to have a few days off and be returning to their native time zone.



They launched right into the Jam that we all know leads to Truckin’ and we were off on another beautiful Fenway evening, with the sky showing some blue but getting more overcast as the evening went on, though thankfully rain and thunderstorms held off once more.

Here’s the first set and some notes:

  • Jam into Truckin' – Kind of fun to look around and see half of the people get what song they were playing right away, and then hear the other half of the crowd roar only when they lit into, “Truckin’, got my chips cashed in….”  And this was a titanic Truckin’ with an outro that could have turned into anything.
  • But what it turned into was Big River, Bobby leading the way.  Maybe it was the humidity or the Park being so full, but the sound wasn’t quite as good Saturday night.  John tried to take off on this, but the song never really fell into place, though Jeff did his best on organ.
  • I was hoping we’d get a brace (at least) of cowboy songs, but they came to a full stop, and then John started picking They Love Each Other.  Donna came out and the crowd went nuts, could be that some of them were unaware of her presence on this tour.  The harmony singing and particularly her singing on the “Lord you can see…” choruses was excellent.  John definitely achieved takeoff on this song!
  • Deal – This was the third time (in 4 concerts) we’d seen these guys do Deal and so it was a little disappointing to get such a repeat, though this was done very well.  This really is one of the best little pieces of music that Garcia ever wrote, and the song contains boatloads of lyrical possibilities (see Hartford post) that John and Jeff love exploring.  Go to it guys!
  • I called the next song in the middle of Deal; for some reason I was sure they’d do Bird Song next and by gum they did.  Don’t know what made me think that.  This wasn’t the best Bird Song in terms of diving full-tilt into the dark take on life that this song implies, but again the vocals were very good, and there were plenty of stretches of instrumental brilliance.  The Dragon of ensemble Dead playing almost emerged here and the song was riveting.  But in all, another case of a bit more practice with Donna and they might get there with this one.
  • Passenger and Goin' Down the Road Feeling Bad – I have to admit I was off to the bathroom and the beer line as soon as Bird Song ended and it’s a good thing I made that strategic decision.  The tunnels were packed with people, even during the set!  There was a line for the bathroom and I had to wait for at least 10 minutes for beer.  Caught a bit of these tunes snaking down into the depths of Fenway (I was very bummed I missed Passenger), but the crowds pouring into the tunnels as GDTRFB ended and I was trying to exit were scary!  I was very glad to push my way back into the open air and have some time to sit in our suddenly un-crowded area after that.  Sent shivers down my back to imagine trying to navigate them during the set break.

Caught up and yucked it up with BobR and friends after a bit of rest, and then we bulled our way up into the field boxes to visit our friends there for a bit.  They could see the stage without standing on tip-toe since they were elevated a bit, but were jammed into those small Fenway seats that are kind of a nightmare themselves.

Back to our seats and the crowd was now pouring out of the tunnels, it was really kind of frightening how jammed with people it was, though we were ostensibly in the open expanse of left field at Fenway Park!?!  The guys came back out after an average-length break and we were off again, for the final time on this stand in Boston.



We’d been hoping and hoping that Donna was going to be at Fenway and that they’d play PITB.  It happened!  Here’s the second set:

  • Playing In the Band - Dave called it from the first few random notes from Bobby.  We were so ready for this!  Need I say that this is one of the most essential songs of Western Civilization (and I mean West of Alpha Centauri)?  John got out the old wah-wah filter for this and at times it seemed there were four guitars playing ... might have been some looping going on,  Bobby may have played this song a few times before.
  • We were waiting for them to come back into the chorus after the jam and for Donna to scream and rip the foundations of our world.  But before you knew it they were starting up with ...
  • Estimated Prophet - My Dog, I've heard this song so many times I couldn't believe at first that they were playing it again and I also can't believe that it hasn't been played out yet.  But it hasn't been by a long shot.  Perhaps here Bobby first showed signs of being tired, and he didn't elevate this vocally like he can (on one chorus he sang, "Don't worry about me now, I ain't getting old").  But the firm of Mayer-Burbridge-Chimenti did the deep dive into this song and the team of Kreutzmann-Hart was right there with them.  This was excellent stuff and again featured great harmonies between Oteil and John.  Really, this may have been the song of the night ... just ridiculously good stuff.
  • Then those guys were done being fantastic ... for the moment ... and so Bobby started up He's Gone, singing the "Rat in a drain ditch" verse in his best 2010's, raspy style, and then John and Oteil and Donna and Jeff coming in on the chorus.  This is one of those songs that means a lot to everyone who's paying attention, "Nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile."
  • Wait, why would they do Sugaree now when they had their mojo working and could go into like, TOO (just a suggestion)?  Maybe because it's another of the most excellent things Garcia ever wrote and was done as well as Deal, wonderful!  Played a lot and a bit of a sing-song for the masses here, but good.  Again, maybe another sign of being a bit tired.
  • And then another incongruous thing, Bobby and Oteil were suddenly right in the middle of Fire on the Mountain.  Odd place in the setlist for this, but maybe they were playing songs they knew they could kill.  And they did kill this, very plus version, especially Oteil floating above everything and John and Jeff (and Bob of course) hammering the melody.  Or maybe they were doing songs they'd practiced with Donna.
  • Drums/Space - This interlude is evolving and hopefully won't evolve *into* anything, just become more itself.  In some ways, this is becoming the highlight of the night.
  • And then a majestic descent into Days Between.  From their accounts, this seems to be one of the most meaningful songs in their quiver to the original members.  To me, this was one of the best versions I've ever heard because of the great timing from the band-leader, the pitch-perfect passages between verses, and ethereal piano from Jeff.
  • Not Fade Away - Got to please the crowd and this song is one of the most epic sing-alongs ever, thanks and RIP Buddy Holly!  To see Bobby and Donna belting this out was beyond description.  This was a very perfect version.


The crowd was clapping of course, and everything was wonderful.  I looked around at Fenway and was feeling very good,  Then the guys came back out for the encore.  I don't know if I've ever seen Saturday Night, though it's one of the most classic songs ever and I've been there many a Saturday,  Anyway, guess what they played for an encore?

One More Saturday Night - No overt politicizing here, just the rock and roll of the ages, including a totally satisfactory Donna scream!

[Sarah's pix from Saturday]

Far be it from me to be analytical (if you've read this far, that's a joke).  I feel these were two of the best nights of the tour.  Friday featured a classic setlist and upbeat playing.  Saturday was tired but endlessly baroque.  Let me conclude my thorough exegesis by saying we were lucky to be there for both nights, in many ways!

Again I have to mention the awesomeness of the setting.  Fenway Park was delightful, and they’d set up a humongous stage, worthy of a stadium rock show, in deepest center field, but extending out to where Fred Lynn would play for a straight-away hitter.  When I turned around to see the whole park, as I often did, the seats were crammed with Deadheads dancing and having fun.  Lights from the stage played over the crowd, the grandstand, and the boxes where Jean Yawkey used to sit primly and watch her team.  And the almost-full moon floated up among the clouds, beyond the Cumberland(!) Farms sign, peeking in and out through cracks in the gathering cover.

I loved seeing the Dead in such a setting in the middle of my city.  I used to live and work in the Fens, 40 years ago!  But I came away from there saying that I may never go see a stadium show again.

Fare Thee Well in Levi’s Stadium last summer and these shows at Fenway were great.  But it wasn’t like going to see a concert, more attending an event.  The field at Fenway is not tilted towards the stage of course, and I had to stand on my tip-toes to see the band, and sometimes just could not see them through the heads in front of me.  Sarah and Dave had a worse time.  I need to see the band play to most appreciate the music … that’s why I go to concerts.  Sure, we were close enough to catch glimpses of interplay between the musicians, and see how Bobby’s gestures set the pace for the band.  But I needed to see more, and could barely see the drummers’ heads, let alone their kits.

And the security was a pain in the butt.  Friday night was ok, but with the packed crowd on Saturday they had set up steel gates around every section and would only let you in if you showed your ticket.  I had to flash mine about 25 times during the course of the evening, and they’d only let you in to section B7 (our section) via a circular path that was just stupid.  They were way past the point of considering the comfort/ease of the concert-goer in their decisions about access, which I hate.

We were meat as far as the concert organizers were concerned, we were not humans attending a concert.  You could say the same line is crossed all the time when dealing with large crowds of people.  I don't think people should stand for this, and I'm calling out the concert organizers as being uncaring about individual concert-goers' experiences.

As we left, we had to bluff our way past a cordon of security people to get to the exit we knew we wanted, otherwise we’d still be smashed into a cramped line in the bowels of Fenway.  No idea what they were thinking there, except maybe it was not wanting that many people on the scaffolding they’d set up over the bullpens, which was shaking while we crossed it!

Next time Dead & Company plays Boston they should do Thursday and Friday night at the Wang Center for the aficionados.  I know I'd be there and would pay a high price (but don't tell them that).  Then they should play the third night at Gillette and charge a low price, and might fill the stadium but I'd watch it from home.  Everyone would be happy!  It would cost them more in overhead to play two sites, but probably not as much as to move to a totally new city, they'd be able to contract for labor to do the package.

Oh well, I may be saying something different next summer, but if you ask me today I’m not going to see a rock show in a stadium again, so there!



So that was it for the Dead at Fenway.  We made it outside after a bathroom stop, and met up with S&M for the long walk back to Beacon Hill.  The crowd was still all around us like a cheap picnic tablecloth, including some motorists who did not want people walking in front of them, though the line of traffic they were in was not going anywhere.  We headed down Boylston and the crowd did not thin out until we were past the Hynes!  Had a nice walk from there and a chance to see Copley Square and some of the lovely architecture in Back Bay on a Saturday night.

Crossed into the Garden and just had to show S&M the Make Way For Ducklings sculpture, then up the Hill past the nicely-lit Massachusetts State House and down to the underground garage, where our car waited to take us home (S&M hitched a ride to Stoneham).  Got home and washed off my feet and legs in the tub before going to bed ... yuck!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Dead At Fenway Park! Friday

Just a (relatively) quick post this morning about Dead & Company last night (7/15/16) because we have to depart in a bit for tonight’s show!  Being in Boston, on our home field, I knew lots of people who were going to attend and this was a huge social occasion as well as a great musical event.

One could just imagine what it would be like:

Well ok, I've just found out that the above photo may be a fake.  But we were psyched!

Left work at 2, had to go home first for forgotten sandals and water, and then made it to the parking lot at Ipswich and Van Ness by 3:30 or so (@$55!).  I was early … much better than being late, and hung out at Yard House where eventually the forces gathered.  Stopped by the car to dump Dave and Sarah’s stuff and then strolled into Fenway Fucking Park, out onto the field to see the Grateful Dead (that is, Dead & Company)!

We went up one of the short runways to the bleachers, but then instead of turning up into the stands we kept straight over a runway they’d made … pretty much where Jack White had been standing when he played the “Bleacher Theater.”  I stopped as we crossed the bullpen and told Dave that’s where we saw Bob Stanley attack many a beach ball with a rake, which I’d been telling him about recently.

He wanted to hurry to our seats but Sarah and I were absolutely awestruck, as we were all evening, by the fact that we were now in the middle of Fenway Park.  Maybe I’ll gush more about this later but it sent a chill up my spine over and over and over to realize that our seats were exactly where Jim Rice used to play when there was a righty up, etc.  We saw new angles of the ballpark I’ve seen many times that I’ll remember for years whenever I’m watching a game.



Took the crowd a long time to get in.  No one seemed to believe that the show was really going to start at 6:30.  But it did.  The guys came out and lined up and lit into a jam, and the beer stands and bathrooms emptied, as a flood of late concert-goers rushed out.

Here’s the first set with some notes … again, probably add more later:

  • Jam into Jack Straw, perfect Fenway July start; I should have guessed that they’d open with this on such a hot, wonderful, summer day.
  • The Music Never Stopped with DONNA!  We were hoping she’d show up and she did!!  But it was really a train wreck on the first bridge, they ended up doing it and then the second as a round so Bobby could follow her and get some order/harmony in there; really jammed out, longest ever??
  • Cracking tight short Next Time You See me … they instantly own this song.
  • Loser … long and slow and beautiful with Donna; very good harmony, she and Bobby singing together as well as I’ve ever heard.  They picked the right song here!  At the end, Bobby said, “Miss Donna Jean, great to have her.  And now a little something for the kids, and another slow song!”
  • Then a great Peggy-O out of nowhere.  This was a surprise.  Their cover is not as good as the more folky ones I’ve heard, such as the arrangement Phil Lesh does, but still a great song and John had some fantastic leads.
  • Then Help/Slip/Frank’s – Great opening chords … talk about a chill down the back …  but then a false start to singing by John on Help On the Way, so around again; fantastic drumming on Slipknot! and then absolutely epic Franklin’s Tower with John shredding it.  Bobby explained the political process at the end.



The break between sets was pretty long but needed to be in order to deal with VERY long bathroom and beer lines (we could only get Bud Lite but were later directed to a stand where we could get Harpoon by our neighbors).  Then the band came back out and played an amazing second set after that incredible first set.

Trying to keep this short as I say, but this show was special.  I’ve heard and/or seen most of this tour, and this first Fenway show was the best of the tour IMO at first hearing.  As with Hartford, we were not looking straight at the stage (we were way left this time) and the seeing was not great, even from pretty close seats.  And there was some sloppiness, especially with fitting in Donna, but…

But the playing was fantastic.  John was so eager to rip off great leads (he was wearing a picnic tablecloth) that he was like a bronco busting out of the chute.  What can I say, Bob Weir pulled off another of his great band-leader performances; great singing and great timing.  And not sloppy at all were Oteil and the drummers, who filled our heads with incredible rhythm in that incredible setting.  As I say, listen to that tape!  And Jeff!!  They’ve turned his organ facing front and put him closer to the center of the stage … I think everyone recognizes how important his contributions are to this band.



As I say, the second set was as wonderful as the first:
  • St. Stephen!  What a second set opener, like Boston Music Hall in 1976!  Meandering jam with hints of several other songs … what was coming next?  Then back into the last verse and “… the answer to the answer man?”  And then…
  • The opening notes of Dark Star without missing a beat.  Dark Star in Fenway Park on a summer night!!!  They did their “spacy” Dark Star rather than their apocalyptic one.  Jeff had us in outer space with organ sounds from another dimension, John, Oteil, Bobby, the drummers … OMG!  Dave and I agree this was one of the best Dark Star’s we’ve ever experienced live.  They dropped into a jazzy jam in the middle of it … not heard that before, and ended it with a reggae jump into the “Mirror shatters” verse.  This was a bunch of Pranksters letting it all hang out.
  • Into … wait, Bobby’s strumming but the others aren’t starting and then Oteil kicks in and: full-blown Terrapin Station with Jeff doing dreamy things on piano!  Donna on harmony again and she had her high points all night, but needs a bit more practice with the varsity IMO.  John and Oteil are meant to sing together.
  • Drums/Space – This was different, more of a Drums/Space Jam than the traditional drum solo and then instrumental weirdness.  This was weird all the way through, especially with Mickey at the helm of the clown bicycle horns!
  • And John was then toodling a bit but looking at Bobby like he's got an INTENT and suddenly everyone looks that way and suddenly John starts into a reprise of Terrapin Station!
  • Yay!  What's next?  OMG, not a false note into the intro to Morning Dew.  Not to be described, I was so glad to see this in Fenway Park with thousand of friends in the middle of summer, but the backdrop of course were the horrors in Nice the day before, the attempted military coup in Turkey that day, the presidential election, etc.  Just focus on Bobby singing and don't get distracted...
  • Fell apart a bit after John's crescendo, but then Bobby counted it off and wham: Casey Jones!  John gave the lead the psychedelic kick it should have.
  • Encore: Black Muddy River - Garcia and Hunter did not stop writing great songs in the 70s ... this is one of their best and John sings it very well, and I was very delighted to see it done live..  There's a Muddy River in the Boston Fens of course, though I don't know if they knew this.
  • U.S. Blues - Woohoo!  A second encore.  This is another song that has to be sung on a summer night in the (almost) beginning of July in an historic ballpark.  Nice job, but now time to go home.


WOW!  We hung out at our seats for a bit while the crowd tried to file out.  Went out the way we’d come in (for beer and bathroom breaks we used the door in the left-field corner, I kept asking people if this was the Manny Ramirez Memorial bathroom and they didn’t get it … Philistines!) so we could exit by the car.

Got to the car but then had to wait forever to get unblocked in the lot.  Dave ended up taking off to walk over to the Hynes stop.  A nice neighbor gave me a Heineken to ease the waiting.  Pretty quick ride home after that (gave J a ride, no Row Jimmy though!) and still before midnight by the time we got to bed.

Pictures from Sarah here.