Saturday, April 5, 2014

Lesh and Friends with Campbell and Williams, Friday

As mentioned, Phil Lesh is planning 30 shows at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester this year.  And when he announced that his first stretch of four shows would be with not only the core of Furthur (Russo, Chimenti, and Kadlecik), but with Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams as well, it didn't take much for Dave to convince us to get tickets for the Friday and Saturday shows, the last 2 of the 4.  They later announced that Boyd Tinsley (from Dave Matthews Band) would be playing as well.  What a band!

Phil charges top dollar, and just before the shows the Capitol announced a SD/HD streaming option, so we bought that too ($19.99, well make if $29.99 for the mp3 too).  The Wednesday stream was plagued with buffering/connection problems and, though a great preview of the band, was ultimately a frustrating experience.  When I complained they gave me a code for another try, which was decent of them.  Hopefully the ubiquitous "problems with the venue's ISP" (which is always what streaming companies say) will be cleared up by then.

Anyway, the preview got us even more excited, and we were pretty psyched when we drove down to a hotel we'd booked in Tarrytown NY from West Concord.  Dave was driving down there from Ithaca and was even more psyched.  By the time the Wilbur Cross turned into the Merritt Parkway the traffic had gotten Friday-afternoon-near-the-New-York-singularity intense, and then it went from 80 to 0 pretty quickly around a bend in Norwalk, where we saw a long line of stopped cars in front of us, and no one coming down the other side of the road.  Not good.  But we were able to exit and make our way through thicker and thicker traffic towards downtown, where we picked up 7 and then 95, which was even more packed and intense but at least moving.  By the time we made it to 287 it had started raining, but we got to Tarrytown finally just a half-hour behind schedule and everything was ok.

Hung out in the room a bit and watched some of the screen capture from Wednesday, and then had a pretty quick trip over to Port Chester where we ate at the same Mexican restaurant, the Kiosko.  Excellent meal again, though we were the only people there when we started and still the only non-Hispanics when we left.

It was spitting rain after we ate and when we got across to the Capitol there were already 50 or so people waiting to get in.  They let us wait in the interior lobby since it was raining.  We had to stop to get searched and wrist-banded when they opened the doors, and so didn't get to belly-up to the stage but we were just a bit left of center, and just a row back.  Got a beer and watched the crowd pour in, it was sold out and packed.  Matt and Jeannie finally made it to their balcony seats.

And then the band came out, tuned up, and launched into Alabama Getaway, sung by John of course.  Here's the first set:

Alabama Getaway (JK)
Friend Of the Devil (PL)
Irony and Spite Jam
Little Sparrow (TW)
Just a Little Light (JK)
Just Another Whistle Stop (LC)
Lazy River Road (JK)
Big River (LC and TW)

They're apparently naming their jams on this tour ... the jury's still out on this as sustainable.  Phil was singing as well as ever.  Little Sparrow (Dolly Parton song) was Teresa's first chance to take over the stage and she sure did.  Just a Little Light was a bit of an oddity, a Brent song, but was performed very well.  Whistle Stop is one of my favorite Band songs and was done powerfully by Larry.  Lazy River Road was perhaps the standout song of the first set, done just beautifully.  Big River was another chance to show what the guest stars could do, and they knocked it out of the park with some tight harmony.

Great first set and we were pretty packed in.  I left my coat on but had to take it off by the end of the set, though they do a good job of not letting the heat get out of hand in the Capitol.  Many people gush about this theater, including most musicians who've played there, and I'm a devotee myself.  It's a great room with great sound and great views of the stage from all over.  Made it to the bathroom and back with much difficulty and then just stayed in my spot and gabbed during the set break.  Matt and Jeannie sneaked downstairs and joined us for the second set, which was:

China Cat Sunflower (JK)
Bird Song (TW)
I Know You Rider (all)
Midnight Highway (LC and TW)
Mason's Children (all)
Dark Star (PL)
River Deep Mountain High (TW)
Dark Star (PL)
Not Fade Away (all)

This was just fantastic and went too fast!  They came right out and whipped into some excellent guitar work on China Cat.  This was (I think??) the first time I heard a female sing Bird Song and Teresa killed one of my favorite Dead songs, and then they all joined in on a perfect Rider, with some amazing group vocals (of course, the "group" was the whole theater).  I hadn't heard Midnight Highway, which some research leads me to think was written by Larry (though I may be wrong).  Mason's also featured some great ensemble singing ... Teresa's pipes were warming and warming ... and had us all rocking and rolling.

And then what we all wanted: a Dark Star jam of death with Phil doing some ethereal singing, Joe thundering the music of the spheres on the drums, Jeff playing some beyond-cerebral stuff on the keys, and Larry turning up the raunch and the volume.  And just when the jam was beginning to mellow out, Teresa jumped up to the microphone and belted out, "When I was a little girl I had a rag doll..." and the place went nuts!  She just wailed  on River Deep Mountain High and the crowd wailed along with her.  Then back into the second verse of Dark Star and more beautiful jamming, and then into NFA!!  Glad, they didn't do the fade-out-and-leave-the-crowd-clapping thing, they played this and then closed it like a Buddy Holly rocker, though they did some very un-Buddy Holly stuff in the meantime of course.

Gracious host Phil came out for a nice Donor Rap, and then it was encore time.  I'd shouted for When I Go Away (great Larry-penned song covered by Levon Helm on his Grammy-winning records) and Larry and Teresa definitely heard this but looked stone-faced, so I thought it unlikely they'd play it.  But Larry had something on his mind at this point and huddled with the other musicians, trying to convince them of something, so I thought there might be some hope.  But they launched into Tennessee Jed, which was a compromise perhaps ... a Dead song but also covered by Levon/Larry and done in that style.

Wow!  We were so packed up against the stage that we had to wait a bit for the crowd to start leaving before we could breath.  The place was a mess, with cans, cups, bottles, and paraphernalia littering the floor so deeply that you had to walk on it.  Made it out of there with some delay and it was raining, and then it started pouring cats and dogs just as we made it to the car.  Not great visibility back to Tarrytown on 287, but not many crazy people on the road, luckily.  Hung out with M&J back at the hotel, watched the rest of the first set from Wednesday, then went to bed after a long, long day.

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