Friday, May 27, 2016


Going to the Brighton Music Hall to see a rock show in the middle of the week isn’t exactly a young person’s game.  But we were taking the next day off for the long weekend, and so went to see the John Kadlecik Band on Thursday, May 26th.

We’d seen John previously a good number of times in Furthur of course, and also in the Golden Gate Wingmen and with Phil & Friends.  He’s never fallen short of being a vastly entertaining, complete guitarist, and so we were very excited … and he surpassed our expectations!

Got into Brighton through incredibly thick Thursday traffic, got turned around a bit while trying to avoid the worst of it, and then miraculously found a “free” (but see below) parking spot in the same block as the Music Hall.  The three of us met at Deep Ellum (after a slow and crowded T ride for Sarah and Dave … Boston was going through the yearly upheaval of patterns that takes place in late May and we were in the midst of it) and had a nice dinner on their patio on a suddenly warm Spring day.  We’ve been having early Springs that seem to last forever before turning into what we think of as “Spring” lately … but I digress.

We walked over to the BMH (passing John in a nearby pizza shop having *his* dinner … I gave him a thumbs-up), and were barely first in a rapidly-extending line.  They let us in after not too much delay, we grabbed places in front of the stage (and some huge under-stage bass speakers and some mid-ranges at waist level), got a couple of beers, and didn’t have to wait that long as the place filled up.

I’d heard that John was touring with his “regular” band.  I’m not sure what that means in terms of stability or longevity (John has been performing with a band under his name for at least 15 years), but on that day he had Klyph Black on big Fender bass, Nathan Graham on drums, and Todd Stoops on keyboards.  Here’s the first set:

  • Brown-Eyed Women
  • Nobody Told Me
  • They Love Each Other
  • Tin Roof Shack
  • Box of Rain
  • Bird Song
  • Seen Love
  • Ripple

This was really good stuff!  John does BEW and TLEO very, very well from his practice with the masters.  And he adds his own signature to songs like Bird Song and Ripple (which he didn’t sing in French, to my disappointment).  Tin Roof Shack (Peter Rowan song) was a high point of the set itself and mixing in Nobody Told Me (the Lennon song, “Strange days indeed!”) and Hairball Willie's Seen Love made for a great set.

This was not like the democratic playing we usually like in a concert, but that can lead to some dead spots and noodling while everyone says, “Not me!”  The band arranged each song well, and there were keyboard leads and bass bombs thrown this way and that; but this was John’s band.  Every song led eventually to Klyph, Nathan, and Todd clustered in a triangle, keeping up a melodic beat, staring at John the leader.  He’d then twirl some dials and hit some switches (he had a lot of each, see the pictures of his guitar), and proceed to melt our minds with excellent solo after excellent solo.  This was fun!

Not over-long set break, while we got one more beer and the full crowd pressed us into the stage.  Then they were back out there for the second set:

  • After Midnight>
  • Your Mileage May Vary>
  • Crazy Fingers>
  • It Takes a Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train To Cry
  • Any Road>
  • The Other One>
  • American Spring>
  • Throwing Stones>
  • Touch of Grey

This was more very high-level  stuff!  Highlights of this set were a very spacey Crazy Fingers with some beyond-psychedelic electric guitar,  A Train To Cry done in a JGB style but with JKB spice, and of course TOO on which Klyph turned up his bass to 12 and blew our ears out, much to our delights.

More good stuff but before we knew it it was time for the encore and we realized we were pretty exhausted.  They did another Dylan cover, When I Paint My Masterpiece, and then were done.  Dave got the setlist from a roadie collecting cables, and we stumbled out into the well-lit Brighton night.

In time to see that there was a ticket on our windshield!  “What!?!” we said, almost in unison with the concert-attendee in front of us who found the same thing on his car.  We looked around and there was a small sign, way above our heads, that said that Friday mornings from 12:01 to 8:01 was street cleaning!  Well fuck us for $40.  The ticket was stamped 12:20 and it was then about 12:40, and of course there was no street cleaner in sight.  Grrr!

Oh well, quick trip home and to bed by 1:30 or so.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Nitty Gritty in Maine

Our friends have a house right near the Stone Mountain Arts Center, the performance space Carol Noonan has started up in Maine, and were nice enough to invite us up to see the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band this Friday (5/13).

As they do for many people, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band symbolizes a milestone in my appreciation of music due to their genius crossover project: 1972's May the Circle Be Unbroken.  This exposed me and others of my generation to a world of music that we wouldn't necessarily have heard otherwise.

They've been around for 50 years now themselves, and the concert in Maine was the actual 50th anniversary of their first playing together.  Their personnel has cycled a bit over the years, but the current iteration is drummer and harmonicist Jimmy Fadden, singer (and guitarist) Jeff Hanna, keyboardist and singer Bob Carpenter, and John McEuen (who played mandolin, banjo, fiddle, and lap steel last night).  Jimmy and John sang too, but it was mainly Jeff leading the vocals.

Drove up after work on Friday and had some time to yuck it up a bit with our friends before heading over to Brownfield.  The lobby/waiting area was already pretty full when we arrived, and McEuen was working the room like a politician, posing for pictures and kissing babies (well, he probably would have if the situation had come up ... mostly older people there you know).

Got ushered into the main dining/performance area in our time and had a great table and a fine meal.  Several drinks were imbibed, and some good food was eaten.  Then the Dirt Band came on and entertained the heck out of us.

Fadden was the star of the night to my ears.  His tone on harmonica was perfect and echoed with my memories of how that same tone had played around the vocals of Roy Acuff, the guitar of Doc Watson, the deep bass of Johnny Cash, the soprano of Alison Krauss, and the sublime fiddling of Vassar Clements on the Circle records (they did two sequels as well as the epic first).

They had an accompanist on guitar and bass as well as the core four, and they kept up a great pace all night, though McEuen showed signs of tiring at some points and Hanna sometimes failed to lead the band as consistently as one might want.  Oh well, the point is that they're the quintessential hippies and their music is a mixed bag.  Dig it or not.  And the full house basically really dug it!

Short ride back after that, stayed up a bit and talked, then to bed after a long day.

Thursday, May 12, 2016


Another year, another Grateful Dead Meet-Up At the Movies!  It’s amazing that there are still enough relatively un-seen films of the Grateful Dead throughout their career that they can come out with a new one every year.  After all, the Grateful Dead and their oeuvre don’t exactly fly under the radar … they receive a certain amount of scrutiny.

The film for 2016 is the entire concert from Foxboro Stadium (whilom Schaefer Stadium and Sullivan Stadium) on 1989-07-02, a fertile period for GD concert films as they had recently started filming them so they could be shown on large screens in the stadiums they played at the time.  And so high quality films were made routinely, though not always preserved.  This was the first date of their summer tour, a couple of weeks before last year’s GDMUATM (1989-07-19) and the date before the Truckin’ Up To Buffalo DVD, from 1989-07-04.  And it seemed that everyone we talked to about this film had been there at Foxboro in 1989!  Maybe we were too…

It was a bit harder than before to pick a theater, since we wanted one we could all get to with the least amount of hassle, and which would then enable us most easily to drop Dave off at home.  We settled on the Showcase Cinema de Lux Legacy Place in Dedham because a) it had the longest name and b) it seemed to be a good compromise geographically.  As it turns out, it’s a short walk away from the Dedham Corporate stop on the Franklin line and so it was easy for Dave and Sarah to get to, though a long rush-hour drive for me.

We met at Yardhouse in that massive, busy mall area, after work on Wednesday, May 11.  I think this cinema is near (and maybe a similar name?) to the one where Sarah and I saw the original “Tron” back in 1982, when it was a little movie theater stuck in behind the Fox News headquarters in the industrial wastelands off route 1 where it crosses 128 south of the city.  Since then the place has grown up to say the least, and is a mega-mall and mega-cinema of scary proportions.

After a few beers and dinner at Yardhouse we dropped off stuff in the car in the massive parking garage, and headed on over to the theater, along with a few other enthusiasts.  Not too many of us though … the theater was only a tenth full.

When we walked in they were playing a clip of Dead & Company, but this ended soon and the real feature(s) started.  First up was an infomercial for “July ‘78” (to be officially released tomorrow), kind of a super-seaside chat without the seaside for Dave Lemieux.  The cinematography almost succeeded in making him seem consistently scholarly, but he ended the film with a Lemieux metaphor of epic proportion (that I can’t remember), so it was worth it.

Then we were [back] in Foxboro in early summer ’89!  The stage was so enclosed by wildly printed draperies and sets of swirling color that the relatively small stage area was probably barely visible for people at the far ends of the stadium.  And the place was packed, as was revealed when the cameras panned around.

They were set up with Phil on the right (facing the audience), flanked by Bobby, Jerry, and then Brent, with Billy and Mickey commanding their drum empire, complete with thunder drums, an early version of The Beam, and large drum pads that they spent a lot of time on, simulating African drum sounds.  Jerry and Phil spent a lot of time on their MIDIs too, making some unusual sounds.

They broke into PITB and we were instantly deep into an excellent first set:
  • Playing In The Band 
  • Crazy Fingers 
  • Wang Dang Doodle 
  • We Can Run 
  • Tennessee Jed 
  • Queen Jane Approximately 
  • To Lay Me Down 
  • Cassidy 
  • Don't Ease Me In
There were some egregious clams dealt by pretty much everyone (but mostly Jerry and Bobby) throughout the night, as well as flubbed lyrics, but a great deal of it was excellent musicianship showing great energy.  The ensemble vocals, when at their best, were particularly sublime.  And the recording was excellent.  There were a few times when Jerry or Bobby hit a ragged crescendo and the sound distorted a bit, but in all the levels were up high and the sound was crystal clear.

Of particular note in that first set was that after a stellar, tight PITB they fell apart when trying Crazy Fingers, but then got it back together a third of the way through the song and reached just as much of a peak by the end of it as they had in the opener.  Garcia singing Wang Dang Doodle was worth the price of admission itself, and they followed that with as good a We Can Run as you can expect (no one except Brent is/was crazy about that song, so this is faint praise), a spectacularly great Tennessee Jed, and a semi-good Queen Jane followed by a train wreck of a To Lay Me Down and then a spectacularly great Cassidy and a short and sweet Don’t Ease Me In.  Spotty to say the least, but in all highly entertaining.

No intermission in the theater, though some of the most elderly in the crowd just had to get in a piss break.  The guys came out on the now-dark stage and proceeded to weird out.  The second set wasn’t bad at all, but wasn’t classic.

Here’s the list:
  • Friend Of The Devil 
  • Truckin' 
  • He's Gone 
  • Eyes Of The World 
  • Drums 
  • Space 
  • The Wheel 
  • Dear Mr. Fantasy 
  • Hey Jude 
  • Sugar Magnolia
This was a weird setlist.  How many times has FOTD been a second set opener?  And why?  Lots of good stuff here, including a well-sung Truckin’ (which is weird itself), some incredible guitar work on Eyes, a very good extended Space section, and then a beautiful Wheel.  Brent was at the top of his game on most of Mr. Fantasy, and then they tried the weird segue into Hey Jude and it didn’t quite come off as hoped, though everyone was having a good time by that point, including the crowd.  People were dancing in the aisles and clapping along … no lack of enthusiasm at Legacy Place that night!

They then concluded with a very good Sugar Magnolia.  Bobby had hit a wrong chord while Jerry was singing earlier in the evening, almost throwing him off.  And so Jerry hit a wrong chord on purpose while Bobby was trying to emote on the Sunshine Daydream coda, and then leered devilishly at Bobby.  They were having a good time on stage and so how could we not?  The encore followed without a break, and it was as good a Quinn the Eskimo as I’ve heard, which is again not saying much.

Lots of people hurried out of the theater as they finished, but then a real highlight followed, as they re-rolled the snippet of Dead & Company that they had been playing when we entered: Slipknot! and Franklin’s Tower from 2015-12-28.  This was great stuff, and quite an interesting contrast with the Bobby, Billy, and Mickey we’d just been watching, let alone the contrasts made by the new musicians.

Had another great GDMUATM and then not too long a drive (though we started off going the wrong North) over to Quincy and then up to Woburn … in bed by 11 or so.