For years we've been meaning to go see Playing Dead on one of their semi-regular Friday night gigs at Johnny D's. And with the venue closing down, when they announced a last Friday night there, we signed on board for dinner seating. They actually play today too.
We met at Redbones, had a couple of beers, and headed on over for dinner last night. This was our 22nd and final time there and reminiscing was in order. We've seen 23 different acts at Johnny D's Uptown Restaurant and Music Club, counting openers. These have covered the spectrum of good modern music, from Billy Joe Shaver to Playing Dead(!), from Los Straitjackets to Peter Rowan, from Elizabeth Cook to Rhonda Vincent. I remember Elana James From Hot Club of Cowtown sawing her fiddle so hard I thought she'd stick it in the egg-crate baffling they have over the stage. I remember being at the front table while Dave Alvin played so loud that even the background buzz from his amp between songs was deafening. Lots of other memories too. We're very sad to see the place go, and wish we'd seen even more there!
Playing Dead put on a great, full, Grateful Dead show for the packed house. We were seated way to stage right, almost parallel with the stage. But this gave us a great view of Mark Munzer and the drummers, and the sound was still excellent even over there. Highlights for me were Hard To Handle, Eyes Of the World, and Ramble On Rose ... the good stuff. There were a couple of lowlights when the bass player seemed on a different page than the rest of the band, but we got past them.
Here's the setlist:
1: Jack Straw, Dire Wolf, Mexicali Blues, Ain’t it Crazy, Catfish John, Cassidy, Ramble on Rose, Brother Esau, Hard to Handle, Bird Song > Greatest Story Ever Told
2: Like a Road, Help on the Way > Slipknot! > Franklin’s Tower, Easy Wind, Minglewood Blues, Eyes of the World > China Doll > Lost Sailor > Saint of Circumstance, Not Fade Away > Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad
E: Deal [Note that on Saturday, their final night, they did two double encores: Brokedown Palace > Box Of Rain and then China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider.]
Spent a lot of time watching the room and the crowd, and our almost-corner spot was great for that. It seems like a big room from over there ... I've sat or stood most places in it ... and it was sad to know this would be the last.
At the end of the concert I was talking with the table-mate sitting next to me, when the other table-mate interrupted and called me by name. It was RonM, whom I used to work with!