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
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.