Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Phish 10/20/13

Takin' care of business at the mothership.

0:01:26 - Paul and Silas > 0:03:47 - Tweezer [1] > 0:27:36 - Golden Age [2] > 0:44:48 - Piper -> 0:51:06 - Takin' Care of Business [3] > 0:57:09 - Also Sprach Zarathustra > 1:04:54 - Sand > 1:14:54 - Slave to the Traffic Light
Encore: 1:29:00 - A Day in the Life > 1:34:05 - Tweezer Reprise
[1] Mike on power drill. [2] Fishman on Marimba Lumina. [3] Phish debut.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Jiminy Cricket

The Crickets

Tom Waits (on Robert Wilson): "Wilson, he's always playing with time. I heard a recording recently of crickets slowed way down. It sounds like a choir, it sounds like angel music. Something sparkling, celestial with full harmony and bass parts - you wouldn't believe it. It's like a sweeping chorus of heaven, and it's just slowed down, they didn't manipulate the tape at all. So I think when Wilson slows people down, it gives you a chance to watch them moving through space. And there's something to be said for slowing down the world."

Counting stars by candlelight
all are dim but one is bright:
the spiral light of Venus
rising first and shining best,
From the northwest corner
of a brand-new crescent moon
crickets and cicadas sing
a rare and different tune

Friday, October 4, 2013

Wilco Loves You

So Out of Tune

Following in the footsteps of Listen to the Dead and Phish Tracks, here's a Wilco website where you can stream what appears to be the majority of their shows: http://sooutoftune.org/
Looks like it also includes solo shows and side projects by various members. 

Rejoice, Wilco fans! The Spiritfather has bestowed upon us a great bounty of kind tunes to groove in the fields to. And all was well throughout the land.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Drugs are bad

The Rational Choices of Crack Addicts

 “Eighty to 90 percent of people are not negatively affected by drugs, but in the scientific literature nearly 100 percent of the reports are negative,” Dr. Hart said. “There’s a skewed focus on pathology. We scientists know that we get more money if we keep telling Congress that we’re solving this terrible problem. We've played a less than honorable role in the war on drugs.”

Air Garcia

Mind Blown

Am I, or am I so sane that you just blew your mind?
Is it, or is it so possible that your head is spinning like a top?
Can it, or is your entire world crashing down?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Eat a Peach for Peace



Just some mind-blowing Allman Bros video, recorded at one of their legendary shows at the Fillmore East. Not much video of Duane exists, so cherish every moment of this, from the blistering cries of Don't Keep Me Wonderin', the jazzy musings of Dreams, the Southern Gothic drama of Liz Reed, to the classic rock anthem Whipping Post. He was three years younger than Hendrix when he died, and every bit his equal. Guitar heroes are now extinct, gone the way of the dinosaur. If Duane were reincarnated, he wouldn't be locked in his bedroom with a guitar, but with a computer, plotting the next tech revolution. Pioneers need new territory to explore. It is what it is, but I still prefer the guitar.

 "There ain't no revolution, it's evolution, but every time I'm in Georgia I eat a peach for peace."
Howard Duane Allman (November 20, 1946 – October 29, 1971)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Weird Turn Pro


Few could lay out the American psyche as clearly or prophetically as HST. Here are his thoughts on 9/11, and the future of our country and world. You can also revisit my thoughts on 9/11 (and Burning Man) here. But no one says it better than the poet laureate of the American collective unconscious:

Fear and Loathing in America

It was just after dawn in Woody Creek, Colo., when the first plane hit the World Trade Center in New York City on Tuesday morning, and as usual I was writing about sports. But not for long. Football suddenly seemed irrelevant, compared to the scenes of destruction and utter devastation coming out of New York on TV. 

Even ESPN was broadcasting war news. It was the worst disaster in the history of the United States, including Pearl Harbor, the San Francisco earthquake and probably the Battle of Antietam in 1862, when 23,000 were slaughtered in one day. 

The Battle of the World Trade Center lasted about 99 minutes and cost 20,000 lives in two hours (according to unofficial estimates as of midnight Tuesday). The final numbers, including those from the supposedly impregnable Pentagon, across the Potomac River from Washington, likely will be higher. Anything that kills 300 trained firefighters in two hours is a world-class disaster. 

And it was not even Bombs that caused this massive damage. No nuclear missiles were launched from any foreign soil, no enemy bombers flew over New York and Washington to rain death on innocent Americans. No. It was four commercial jetliners. 

They were the first flights of the day from American and United Airlines, piloted by skilled and loyal U.S. citizens, and there was nothing suspicious about them when they took off from Newark, N.J., and Dulles in D.C. and Logan in Boston on routine cross-country flights to the West Coast with fully-loaded fuel tanks -- which would soon explode on impact and utterly destroy the world-famous Twin Towers of downtown Manhattan's World Trade Center. Boom! Boom! Just like that. 

The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are At War now -- with somebody -- and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives. 

It will be a Religious War, a sort of Christian Jihad, fueled by religious hatred and led by merciless fanatics on both sides. It will be guerilla warfare on a global scale, with no front lines and no identifiable enemy. Osama bin Laden may be a primitive "figurehead" -- or even dead, for all we know -- but whoever put those All-American jet planes loaded with All-American fuel into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon did it with chilling precision and accuracy. The second one was a dead-on bullseye. Straight into the middle of the skyscraper. 

Nothing -- even George Bush's $350 billion "Star Wars" missile defense system -- could have prevented Tuesday's attack, and it cost next to nothing to pull off. Fewer than 20 unarmed Suicide soldiers from some apparently primitive country somewhere on the other side of the world took out the World Trade Center and half the Pentagon with three quick and costless strikes on one day. The efficiency of it was terrifying. 
We are going to punish somebody for this attack, but just who or what will be blown to smithereens for it is hard to say. Maybe Afghanistan, maybe Pakistan or Iraq, or possibly all three at once. Who knows? Not even the Generals in what remains of the Pentagon or the New York papers calling for WAR seem to know who did it or where to look for them. 

This is going to be a very expensive war, and Victory is not guaranteed -- for anyone, and certainly not for anyone as baffled as George W. Bush. All he knows is that his father started the war a long time ago, and that he, the goofy child-President, has been chosen by Fate and the global Oil industry to finish it Now. He will declare a National Security Emergency and clamp down Hard on Everybody, no matter where they live or why. If the guilty won't hold up their hands and confess, he and the Generals will ferret them out by force. 
Good luck. He is in for a profoundly difficult job -- armed as he is with no credible Military Intelligence, no witnesses and only the ghost of Bin Laden to blame for the tragedy. 

OK. It is 24 hours later now, and we are not getting much information about the Five Ws of this thing. 
The numbers out of the Pentagon are baffling, as if Military Censorship has already been imposed on the media. It is ominous. The only news on TV comes from weeping victims and ignorant speculators. 
The lid is on. Loose Lips Sink Ships. Don't say anything that might give aid to The Enemy.

Something else I closely associate with this day is the Wilco album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. The album was set to be released prior to 9/11, but due to label issues it got pushed back several months after 9/11. The songs perfectly and eerily capture the zeitgeist. Here's the band on Sound Opinions discussing 9/11 and their masterpiece:

Another musical reference point of 9/11 for me is Bob Dylan's Love and Theft, released on 9/11. I was unable to get it that day though, as all the record stores, including Best Buy, were closed. Fucking Al Qaeda. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Mapping the Unconscious

Specific Non-Specifics

Date: September 9, 1993

Location: Dayton, Ohio

Imagine if you will, a mid-size, Midwest, middle of the road, middle of nowhere university. A 17 year old man-child begins the first week of his freshman year. Imagine a classroom, History 101, in which the assigned reading included a giant piece of shit entitled the Great Cat Massacre. True fact. Stop imagining. First college course, first interaction with a professor. Please introduce yourself, tell us your name, where you're from, your major, and something interesting about yourself: "My name is Mitch, I'm from Chicago, Psychology major, and I need tickets to see the Grateful Dead in Richfield this weekend." Laughs from the class. Well played. Some guy named Franko approached me after class and said he might be able to hook me up with tickets, that he was gonna be in a drum circle outside the show, but that didn't pan out. So off we went. Snowpants, Durbin, Mama Cass, Doug Finn and I in Durbin's parents' brown Ford Taurus. His parents forbid him from going to the shows, as Durbin was on the soccer team and had practice that weekend, or something of the sort. Basically, they didn't want him to get on the pot and turn into a hippie. So naturally, he quit the team and we go the hell out of town. Sorry Durbin's. The Dead were doing a 3 show run in Richfield, outside of Cleveland, and we missed the first night, which was solid if unspectacular. We didn't have tickets, or drugs, except for possibly some Mexican ditch weed and a corn cob pipe. And we didn't have a place to stay, other than a pup tent that slept 4. But we had good vibes, man. The universe was in our favor.

We arrived in the vicinity of the Coliseum. I seem to recall a rural road-side ice cream stand in which hippies were cavorting about, and immediately scored tickets for around face value. Would you like some snowmen with that? Yes, three please. And off we went to find a campground. Then back to the parking lot, selling grilled cheese. I think our profits were stolen, never mind, onto the show. At this point, some of our fellow Dayton comrades had met up with us. The first set was pretty standard for the era. It featured the classic Stagger Lee/Queen Jane combo, but not much else to write home about. The second set is a keeper though. A unique setlist, with a mix of big Jerry tunes and more challenging Weir compositions. The set starts off with the angular and distorted Victim or the Crime. An unpopular and underrated song, Jerry keeps his head down for the first 11 minutes of the set, mapping the unconscious. This uncharted territory lead to an extended intro to Crazy Fingers, Jerry exploring a land where the backwoods melody of Friend of the Devil dances with the island rhythms of the Barrett brothers. Jerry springs to life just in time to tie it all together, delivering the first kaleidoscopic verse of  Hunter's otherworldly tune.

Your rain falls like crazy fingers
Peals of fragile thunder keeping time
Recall the days that still are to come
Some sing blue

Weir follows with the singular rocker Saint of Circumstance, a song that may not be among the most cherished of Dead tunes, but flowed perfectly within the context of the set. And then, Terrapin. From the Northwest corner. You know what I'm talking about. A sly Last Time emerges from Space. Although there was only one more song to come, Morning Dew is the crown jewel of any set. Typically excellent for the era, a song that in some ways got better as Garcia aged, bringing wisdom and weariness to his delivery. One of Garcia's many great signatures is when he would fan out chords at the climax of a tune. He delivers the goods on this version, building it up and blowing it out with some sonic fireworks. I even enjoyed the I Fought the Law encore. A show that surprises you in all the right ways.

Richfield Coliseum, Richfield, Oh. (Thu)
1: H. C. Sunshine, Spoonful, Stagger Lee, Queen Jane, Tennessee Jed, Easy Answers> Don't Ease
2: Victim> Crazy Fingers> Saint> Terrapin> Drumz> Last Time> Morning Dew E: IFTL

On the way out, as we're struggling to find our marbles, there he is, lying on the floor: Jim. We had no idea what we were doing, where we were going, let alone who we were, and Jim would be the one to lead us home. A plastic action figure, with knee high boots, ruffled shirt, and flowing cape, he had an air of confident amusement about him. We entrusted him with our lives, and in turn, our belief brought that little plastic man to life that night. You see, he needed us as much as we needed him. To believe. And just as the Velveteen Rabbit became real, so too did Jim, as he took his place behind the steering wheel of the Taurus, and guided us back to the campground that night, all the while the Doors' When the Music's Over blared out the speakers. Driving down the back roads of Ohio, no idea where we are, Jim leading the way, The Lizard King imploring him to take us where we need to go. Of course, there's the campground. Jim drove straight there without making a single wrong turn. Just as we arrive, Hard to Handle from Bear's Choice starts to kick in. We rock it it out to the end, and gradually dance our way out the sun roof and around the campground, miraculously grateful we made it. Other than sitting around the campfire, I think I spent most of the night in the bathroom staring in the mirror and FREAKING OUT!!!!! Somehow, all our new Dayton friends made it back to this campground as well. As a relatively responsible person who is usually aware of what is going on around him, I still have no idea how not only they, but we, made it back to the campground. Even more amazing, these folks continue to be my friends to this day. Talk about your cosmic bonding experiences.

So the first night we had 2 pieces of the white paper. That means the second night we should eat 3 snowmen, right? Or something like that. Regardless, there will be marbles. I should have known what we were getting into from the scene we witnessed on the way in. There he was in all his glory. Shirtless, greasy pony tail half-way down his back, camo pants. A beer in one hand, spilling about. One foot bare, and on the other a giant plastic cup, loudly slapping the pavement as he marched about in circles. The Anti-Jim. He was shouting something. It was hard to make out from far away, but it seemed he needed help. A crowd had gathered at a safe distance. As we got closer, we were able to decipher his anguished plea: "I have a ticket, but I don't have any shoes! They won't let me in without shoes! Does anyone have any extra shoes!" No one was interacting with him. He was too comical and fearsome, like a cross between a hyena and a drunk clown. Just hysterical and puzzled laughter. We'd all heard of people asking for extra tickets, drugs, etc., but not shoes. And a new tale of lore was born, years later to turn into the famous "Ludes for shoes" line. Hope he made it into the show, but if not I suspect he managed to have a good time.

 The first set started out hot with an excellent Jack Straw. Easily the greatest show opener in the Dead's repertoire, this one featured a little extra mustard from Jerry, giving you hints that this would be a special night. This was followed by a rare and lovely They Love Each Other. The rest of the set was solid, particularly a Ramble on Rose featuring Jerry on the midi trumpet. I could see those blaring notes bouncing off the back walls of the coliseum. Take me to the leader of the band, indeed! I called the Bertha set closer. It wasn't something they had been doing, mainly a set opener at that point in their career, but I could just feel it coming. Maybe it was the snowmen. But again, this night had something special cooking.

Second set we went into the stands behind the stage, and enjoyed the view from there. On the plus side, it was about as close as you could get to the band. As for the minus, it was disorienting, at least from where my mind was bent at the time. China Rider and Way to Go Home were straightforward enough, but things took a weird turn with Corrina. Again, not a great song, but one with potential to get interesting, as it did on this night. They took the tune out into open space, but the band eventually settled on a new song, although at the time my mind just could not comprehend what was going on. The crowd was cheering, the band appeared to be acting in sync, gesturing, and singing at the same time. But as far as I could tell it sounded like some distorted version of Shakedown St, turn the wah up to 11. At first, it's just weird. You don't know what's going on. Then before you know it, you're the only person in the whole world, left out of the eternal joke, which, coincidentally, happens to be on you. BWAUAUAUAUUA. SCHWINGINANANANANA. MYNONONA. The crowd goes wild, reacting to something. Will this hell ever end? What was that? I'm starting to hear something, everyone, all together now: "Oh-oh, what I want to know, how does the song go?"

This is the cosmic joke that happens at Dead shows and similar altered experiences: everything in the universe lines up perfectly to let you know what a complete fool you are. As if Robert Hunter had written those lyrics 25 years earlier with me and my trip in mind, before I had even been born. And yet there were likely dozens if not hundreds of other people in the audience that night having a similar transcendent experience with the tune. Although the lyrics likely meant something completely different to them in the context of their experience, the Dead had the ability to make experiences feel like they had been created just for you. Specific non-specifics is the language that hypnotists use. Speaking specifically about very vague things, in order to awaken the unconscious, create empathy and trust, and make subjects more likely to respond to suggestions. Politicians do the same thing. And so did great lyricists like Hunter. For example, from Box of Rain: "Look out of any window, any morning, any evening, any day. Maybe the sun is shining birds are winging or rain is falling from a heavy sky." Either the sun is shining, or it's raining. It's day, or night. Either way, but you can picture it clearly. And from UJB:

Well, the first days are the hardest days,
don't you worry anymore
When life looks like Easy Street
there is danger at your door
Think this through with me
Let me know your mind
Wo-oah, what I want to know
is are you kind?

It's a Buck Dancer's Choice, my friend,
better take my advice
You know all the rules by now
and the fire from the ice
Will you come with me?
Won't you come with me?
Wo-oah, what I want to know,
will you come with me?

Goddamn, well I declare
Have you seen the like?
Their walls are built of cannonballs,
their motto is Don't Tread on Me

Come hear Uncle John's Band
by the riverside
Got some things to talk about
here beside the rising tide

It's the same story the crow told me
It's the only one he know -
like the morning sun you come
and like the wind you go
Ain't no time to hate,
barely time to wait
Wo-oah, what I want to know,
where does the time go?

I live in a silver mine
and I call it Beggar's Tomb
I got me a violin
and I beg you call the tune
Anybody's choice
I can hear your voice
Wo-oah what I want to know,
how does the song go?

Come hear Uncle John's Band
by the riverside
Come with me or go alone
He's come to take his children home
Come hear Uncle John's Band
playing to the tide
Come on along or go alone
he's come to take his children home  

Some of the lyrics speak directly to the listener, with vague suggestions and images that conjure up individual memories. The specific elements of the song are really more impressionistic, as few people know what a Buck Dancer, Beggar's Tomb, or wall of cannonballs are without doing some research. We're left to our own devices to create the scene. I'm not sure how much of that seeped into my unconscious during my eternity in deep space, but I sure was glad to hear those familiar words that gave me something to grab onto and bring me back to earth. Like a cosmic lifesaver.

The rest of the set was solid, but the real standout was the rare and soulful Attics of My Life. I wasn't expecting this one, and my fried gourd sure did need those soulful voices and reassuring lyrics to gently land me back in reality. Again, specific non-specifics.

In the secret space of dreams
Where I dreaming lay amazed
When the secrets all are told
And the petals all unfold
When there was no dream of mine
You dreamed of me

I can't recall if there were any antics after this show. We were all a bunch of freaked out little babies. We found Mama Cass, who had drifted off mid-second set. She had been taken in by some kindly hippies who kept her sane by feeding her a steady diet of hash and nitrous. Time to go back to college I guess, but a whole new world had opened up to us. I had been to Dead shows before, but always in my hometown, going back to my parents house afterwards. This was a whole other animal. Garcia used to talk about feeling obligated to provide the Grateful Dead experience, as there were no other opportunities left in America for the kind of experiences they provided. It was a hero's journey, both externally and internally, some weird combination of On the Road, Stand By Me, or insert your own adventure.

Richfield Coliseum, Richfield, Oh. (Fri)
1: Jack Straw, TLEO, Rooster, Tom Thumb Blues, Ramble On, B. T. Wind, Bertha
2: China Cat> I Know You Rider, Way To Go, Corinna> Uncle John> Drumz> Wheel> Watchtower> Attics> NFA E: U. S. Blues

For the Dead, it was the beginning of the end. In my mind, these shows were excellent, but clearly they pale in comparison with the peak of the band. As you can see in the videos, Jerry spends much of the time awkwardly hunched over his guitar, though his playing is sharp. The next shows I saw in Spring of 94 also had some excellent moments, but the decline was significant and rapid. But for my group of friends, these shows, and the few more we got to share together would be some of the great bonding experiences that unite us to this day. Amazing that we all found each other that first week of freshman year, and so many of us are still in touch 20 years later. If the Dead shows hadn't happened, we probably still would've connected, but I'm not sure the memories would've been so profound, the experiences so insane. This was the catalyst.

Thinking back to the dorms freshman year, the other kids had Billy Joel posters on their walls. Did they have similar life altering experiences at Joel shows? Try listening to We Didn't Start the Fire on acid some time. You'll never come back.

Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnny Ray
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio
Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, Television
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe

There are no specific non-specifics in there. It's just a list of shit. Verbal Diarrhea would've been a great name for that album. He's trying so hard to say something profound, but it's just a coke-fueled grocery list through all the important things he can think of.

Eat a dick piano man.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Kind Tune of the Moment

The Left Banke, Walk Away Renee

I had heard this song growing up, and was reintroduced to when I saw Badly Drawn Boy on his first tour of America, at a tiny club in Chicago called Schubas. The song suited him perfectly, and I've loved it since. 

I was reintroduced to the song again thanks to Mojo Magazine's list of the 10 greatest Motown albums of all time. Other than the Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder albums that made the list, I can't say I've spent much time listening to Motown albums from front to back. It was the first genre of music that I fell in love with, but to me it was pretty much all about the singles, the hits. Well I'll be sure to check out the other albums on the list if they include gems like the Four Tops cover of Walk Away Renee. It's a pretty straightforward cover, nothing too unremarkable at least until the grittiness and passion of the vocals kick in on the second verse. You can hear the Tops really connecting with the song. Perfect.

Here's the original from The Left Banke. Can't say I'm aware of anything else this band has done. Maybe a one hit wonder, but what a hit it is.

And finally, with official confirmation of what a depressing song this must be, here's a version by Elliot Smith. I can't say I'm too big of an Elliot Smith fan, although I like pretty much everything I've heard by him. Just not much of an urge to seek his music out. And this isn't the first time he's shown up covering a tune in my Kind Tune of the Moment series. Probably won't be the last, if I ever get to Don't Fear the Reaper.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Nicotine all around my brain

Look at Jerry admiring Bob sucking down that heater. He's proud, yet his befuddled smile masks an undercurrent of jealousy, knowing no matter how hard he tries, how many hours of practice he puts in, how  much he dedicates himself to his craft, he'll never attain the same level of nicotinal satisfaction as the master, the poet laureate of rock 'n' roll. The voice of the promise of the 60s counterculture. The guy who forced folk into bed with rock. Who donned makeup in the 70s and disappeared into a haze of substance abuse. Who emerged to find Jesus. Who was written off as a has-been by the end of the '80s, and who suddenly shifted gears releasing some of the strongest music of his career beginning in the late '90s. Ladies and gentlemen — Columbia recording artist Bob Dylan!

Phil Lesh Quintet

Phil Lesh Quintet

Like a phoenix rising from Arizona, bassist Phil Lesh assembled varying lineups of musicians that would carry on and reinterpret the Grateful Dead's legacy to the present day and into foreseeable future. Phil began playing with the younger generation of jamband musicians a few years after Jerry died in 1995. Following his liver transplant, he notably played with Trey Anastasio and Page McConnell of Phish during his "comeback" shows. This trio of shows pointed to the direction Phil would take in years to come: putting an updated spin on the Grateful Dead songbook by adding an avante-garde twist, increased technical precision, and an exploratory and at times belabored perspective to the music. The last few years of the Grateful Dead found the band stuck in a rut, playing a more select group of songs, familiar setlist placement, and very little risk-taking. With a new lease on life and the freedom to do what he chose with the music, Phil has played the role of Johnny Appleseed for the Dead, and ensured that the music will continue to reach new generations of musicians and heads. 

The height of the Phil and Friends lineups came with the beloved Phil Lesh Quintet, consisting of Warren Haynes (guitar, Allman Bros, Govt Mule), Jimmy Herring (guitar, Aquarium Rescue Unit, Widespread Panic, Allman Bros), John Molo (drums, Bruce Hornsby), and Rob Barraco (keys, Zen Tricksters, Chris Robinson, Dark Star Orchestra). They joined forces around fall of 2000, and stuck together for a few years. While each member was a virtuoso at his instrument, this could be the band's downfall as well as a strength, as they had a tendency to exhaust every musical possibility within a song before moving on to something new. At times these explorations could be exhilarating, other times tedious. Another strength of the band was the vocals of Warren and Barraco, able to take lead on some songs, and actually giving a nice vocal blend and harmonies when signing with Phil's often cringe-worthy voice. The musicians were also very much simpatico, clearly enjoying playing with each other, feeding of one another's musical ideas, in a psychedelic Dixieland rock that Phil was striving for, in which all musicians are simultaneously soloing. To my ears, The Quintet was the perfect combination of elements of my favorite bands: the songs of the Grateful Dead, the southern harmonies and dueling guitars of the Allmans, and the technical precision and creative exploration of Phish.  

Their run together culminated in an unfortunate studio album, There and Back Again, that just couldn't come close to capturing the magic they had on stage. There really isn't anything positive I can say about the songs or performances on the album, so I'll just leave it at that. But live, they were a whole other animal. The show that got me on the bus occurred during their initial tour, at the Riviera Theater in Chicago. The old rules were gone. A laser sharp 15 minute Fire on the Mtn in the first set. Air guitar Olympics during Blue Sky. A Terrapin sandwich with Stella Blue as the meat. And a sublime Mountains of the Moon encore. Here's video from a show a few days earlier displaying some similar magic:

A year later, they were like a jamband on steroids, clearly flexing their muscles. Check the Good Times Bad Times jam coming out of St. Stephen:

A show from a year later at Red Rocks in 2002, is like a jamband cream dream. Forget the folk tune B.S., here's the cosmic slop:

I: Jam> Help On The Way> Slipknot!> Lovelight
Til The Morning Comes> Jam> Lay Of The Sunflower
Mason's Children
II: Jam>Dear Mr. Fantasy>Other One V1>
Tomorrow Never Knows>The Eleven>
St. Stephen>Other One V2>
The Wheel>Cosmic Charlie 
E: Slipknot!>
Franklin's Tower

That was more or less the end of the band for about 10 years, as the members went off to pursue other projects, and Phil enlisted various other musicians for interesting if less compelling takes on the Dead's catalogue. They played a handful of shows again in 2012 at Phil's new seafood restaurant in Marin County. Good music for sure, but something seemed to be missing. A band taking a victory lap is not necessarily a bad thing, but not an opportunity to break new ground either.


Seems Phil has moved on to more interesting things at his venue these days:

Since the end is never told, we pay the teller off in gold,
In hopes he will come back, but he cannot be bought or sold.

Thank You Trey!

Phish Summer Tour 2013

Gone are the days of loading your Maxell XL II's into your boombox and dubbing crappy audience tapes several months or years after the shows occurred and the band had already moved onto other things. Here we have a generous Phishhead who has compiled a survey of the best jams of the summer, included in which you can listen to each track to decide for yourself. It's too easy. Kids these days have no fucking idea what I had to go through back in the 90's to hear the kind jams, all while smoking some Mexican ditch weed! The survey below has Youtubes embedded for most of the tracks. Otherwise you can go here or here for the audio. 

Thank you Trey! You're welcome!

Best Jams of the Summer 2013
I mean, back in my day we didn't have no freaking internet. We had to cut holes in a tapestry, stick our heads through it, and pretend we were on a spaceship heading to the dark side of the moon. Fuck it.

David Howell Evans

Monday, August 12, 2013

Me & Zimmy Down By the Schoolyard

Bob Dylan & Paul Simon, Live 1999

I was just recently introduced to a live music blog, Brooklyn Steve,which has an overwhelming amount of shows to download. If you can sift your way through the Deep Purple and String Cheese Incident bootlegs, there are several great recordings to be found. The one that stands out most to me is a soundboard of a Bob Dylan and Paul Simon concert during their summer tour in 1999. They co-headlined, taking turns opening and closing the shows, and in between would play a few numbers together with each others' bands. I was lucky enough to catch the show at Summerfest in Milwaukee on 7/4/99, which is easily the most patriotic thing I've ever done, as well as being pretty gosh dang awesome. The show I saw had Dylan open and Simon close, and while I'm a bigger fan of Dylan, this worked well with Simon's more upbeat tunes coming late in the evening (wink). The order is flipped on this recording, but it's still great. The highlight, and most memorable moment of the evening for me, was the duet on The Sound of Silence. The Simon and Garfunkel (best name ever) version is beautiful, tender, even uplifting despite the darkness of the song. Dylan gives the song more gravity, yet Simon keeps the song from becoming too heavy and collapsing on itself. Really a perfect rendition, even Dylan's acoustic guitar and harmonica meshing well with Simon's world-beat band. The show I saw also had a medley featuring their shared influences, like Buddy Holly's That'll be the Day. This recording has nice versions of I Walk the Line and The Wanderer. They wrap things up together with Dylan's Knockin' on Heaven's Door, which features a few ad lib lyrical references to Fats Domino's I Hear You Knockin', popularized by Dave Edmunds. Always a good sign when Dylan is being playful. 

On either end of the duets are great sets from each performer. Both were playing with top notch bands at the time. I believe the core of Simon's band, featuring two excellent guitar players, had been together for some time. In 1999 Dylan and his band were on an upward swing, Charlie Sexton having been in the group for about a year or so, joining string virtuoso Larry Campbell, former Jerry Garcia Band drummer David Kemper, and, Dylan's longest live collaborator, Tony Garnier on bass. This band would stay together for a few more years, hitting their peak around the fall of 2000 if my memory serves me well. Unfortunately Dylan's been trending downward for the past several years, so be sure to check out his set for a glimpse into the last great (or at least most recent) live peak of his Never Ending Tour.

To contrast from the recording, here are a few videos from the tour, The Sound of Silence and Knockin' on Heaven's Door, but with Dylan's band rather than Simon's providing the backing. Top notch:

Friday, August 9, 2013

Happy Jerry Garcia Death Day!

Captain Trips, RIP

Bob Dylan's press release regarding Jerry Garcia's death:
 "There's no way to measure his greatness or magnitude as a person or as a player. I don't think any eulogizing will do him justice. He was that great, much more than a superb musician, with an uncanny ear and dexterity. He's the very spirit personified of whatever is Muddy River country at its core and screams up into the spheres. He really had no equal. To me he wasn't only a musician and friend, he was more like a big brother who taught and showed me more than he'll ever know. There's a lot of spaces and advances between The Carter Family, Buddy Holly and, say, Ornette Coleman, a lot of universes, but he filled them all without being a member of any school. His playing was moody, awesome, sophisticated, hypnotic and subtle. There's no way to convey the loss. It just digs down really deep."

Here's an amazing video of JGB doing Shining Star, broken into three parts.

Not sure if I posted this one before, but a great JGB show from 78:

18 years...remembering #garcia @grateful__dead .  thank you jerry.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Psychedelic Backwash

The Tahoe Tweezer

37 minutes of the finest Phish you've ever heard. Apparently this is the longest they've jammed any song out in 10 years, and I was lucky enough to witness it in beautiful Stateline, NV in the most magical parking lot turned concert venue on PLANET EARTH! This is not boring Phish. During the show I had no idea how long the song went on for, could've been 10 minutes for all I knew. It felt like a long time, but it had been a long couple of days, and I was in no state of mind to check the time on my waa, er phone. What's amazing about this jam is that it's driving, directed, spontaneous composition. No soloing, noise rock, funk vamping, gadgets or gimmicks. It always sounds like they're going somewhere, and one peak leads to a brand new valley to explore.


A few highlights: Around the 12 minute mark they start a jam that reminds me of Wilco's Bull Black Nova, but of course is not really it at all, just similarly dark and nasty. Around the 26 minute mark they find a jam reminiscent of the Uncle John's/Feelin' Groovy jam the Dead would go into during the transition from China Cat into I Know You Rider during those glorious versions from around 73 - 74. Again, it's similar, but totally not the same thing. In fact, in listening back to the whole show, it sounds more like they're jamming the outro of the song Architect which they would play later in the set. But yet again, that's not quite it at all. Whatever this jam was, it lead to one of those moments of magic that Phish and their crowd seem to have mastered: during a start-stop jam in which the instruments all drop out, the audience spontaneously let out a "Woo!" The band immediately pick up on it, they go through it a few more times, build it up, and it leads to an ecstatic musical explosion. The band and audience would revisit the "Woo"s a few more times later in the show, during the set closing Antelope and encore of Tweezer Reprise.

What I find interesting in looking back on the experience, is how distorted time became. This has always been one of the things Phish is great at: taking a song for a walk, ending up in some unfamiliar territory, and then ending up back where you began the journey to finish the song off. With the right combination of mind-altering chemicals, which likely have already distorted your perception of time, it can be quite exhilarating and confusing. So we had the long Tweezer that took up half the set, and ended back where it began. But within that Tweezer, we also had a possible foreshadowing of what was to come later in the set with Architect. And what I haven't mentioned yet, is that the audience's "Woo"s foreshadowed another song the band would play later in the set, the aptly titled Twist. The lyrics in Twist reference things being all mixed up, and include the band calling out "Woo" throughout. Shit's getting weird.

I spoke your name for many days
Pronouncing it in several ways
And moving letters all around
And substituting every sound

And when you heard the end result,
I told you it was not my fault,
If you were here more of the day,
It wouldn't twist around that way

What is the central theme to this everlasting spoof? During great psychedelic experiences, time reveals itself as being non-linear. And on that night in Tahoe, there was some pretty heavy psychedelic shit going down. So, were those familiar jams and Woo's during Tweezer foreshadowing what was to come, or maybe as Terence McKenna described in True Hallucinations, a psychedelic"backwash," like ripples vibrating across Lake Tahoe to us from some future event. I know, sober me thinks it's a pretty cracked out theory too, but you should see what some other people are saying about the Tahoe Tweezer. So while these may be the insane ramblings of a deranged lunatic, at the very least it is some pretty good music.

7/31Official (J.Soto)

Ric Flair probably sums it up best:

Now that summer tour is over, some phishheads put together a best of compilation. Ten discs worth if you can handle that much Phish. Tahoe Tweezer included on disc 5.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

01. Energy >
02. Ghost >
03. The Lizards (7/21/13)
04. Mike's Song >
05. Simple >
06. Weekapaug Groove (7/13/13)
07. Chalkdust Torture (7/16/13)
08. Quinn The Eskimo (7/17/13)

01. Rock N Roll >
02. Steam (8/3/13)
03. Sneakin' Sally Thru The Alley (7/27/13)
04. Lengthwise >
05. Maze (8/3/13)
06. Stash (7/14/13)
07. David Bowie (7/22/13)

01. Crosseyed and Painless (7/10/13)
02. Light >
03. Boogie On Reggae Woman (7/14/13)
04. Undermind (7/27/13)
05. Tweezer >
06. Cities >
07. The Wedge (7/12/13)

01. Down With Disease (7/22/13)
02. Seven Below (8/2/13)
03. Scent Of A Mule (7/14/13)
04. Rock N Roll >
05. Heartbreaker >
06. Makisupa Policeman (7/16/13)
07. Driver (8/3/13)
08. After Midnight (7/27/13)

01. Tweezer ->
02. Tela (7/31/13)
03. Golden Age
04. Waves >
05. Piper > (7/20/13)
06. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (8/5/13)

01. Rock N Roll >
02. 2001 (7/12/13)
03. Frost (7/17/13)
04. It's Ice (7/14/13)
05. Gotta Jibboo (7/30/13)
06. Run Like An Antelope (7/3/13)
07. Sanity >
08. Bold As Love (8/4/13)

01. Wolfman's Brother (7/30/13)
02. Harry Hood > (8/5/13)
03. Light >
04. The Mango Song > (7/5/13)
05. Say Something (7/27/13)
06. The Oh Kee Pah Ceremony >
07. AC/DC Bag >
08. Vultures (8/2/13)

01. Crosseyed and Painless (7/26/13)
02. Wilson >
03. Tweezer >
04. Silent In The Morning (7/16/13)
05. Dinner and a Movie (7/21/13)
06. Meat (8/2/13)
07. Energy (7/17/13)
08. Jesus Just Left Chicago (8/3/13)
09. Babylon Baby (8/2/13)
10. First Tube (8/3/13)

01. Prince Caspian >
02. Twist >
03. Ha Ha Ha >
04. Possum (7/20/13)
05. Light >
06. David Bowie (8/4/13)
07. Cars Trucks Buses (7/12/13)
08. Split Open and Melt (7/6/13)

01. Energy >
02. Runaway Jim > (8/4/13)
03. Carini (7/6/13)
04. Harry Hood (7/13/13)
05. Walk Away (7/30/13)
06. You Enjoy Myself (7/14/13)


An alternate video of the last 12 minutes of Tweezer, with some nice close ups showing the band and fan interaction: