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
- 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.