I found a website this week in my travels that was offering a free stream of Bob Weir and Ratdog from the Brooklyn Bowl. The free stream was offered by Jambase.com in celebration of the 10 years of Headcount.com, a non-profit, nonpartisan, organization that works to promote participation in democracy in the United States. Its primary focus has been in voter registration with more than 175,000 registrations since 2004. The band was joined on stage half way through the first set by Blues Traveler front man John Popper on harmonica. Whenever there is money being raised folks come out of the woodwork to offer their skills for a good cause. This was a pre-show kick off to the 10th annual Mountain Jam concert series-taking place in upstate at Hunter, NY with such act as the Allman Brothers, Bob Weir & Ratdog and Govt Mule just to name a few.
I recently went to Vegas to see Further. The room had the pungent aromas of sweat, tobacco and various strains of “medicine,” as it is now known in the west. The crowd has not changed much in the past half-century and the music has never been better. The band is a wondrous menagerie of old and new, reinterpreting many of the Grateful Dead standards. Bob Weir and Phil Lesh are the front men as they are the only two original members of The Dead in Furthur. There is one stand out in the band, who brings to life the portions of the songs that were once played by Jerry Garcia. Kadlecik fronted another band called Dark Star Orchestra that played Grateful Dead shows in their entirety, as close to the original as possible. Kadlecik is having the time of his life playing with men who he simply emulated for so many years. I met Kadlecik after a show in 2011 at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas; he just walked out into the casino after the show and talked to fans.
The first of two shows opened 10/1/2013 at the Pearl Theater at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas. The renditions of Truckin and New Minglewood Blues were great, but the showstopper was Kadlecik on guitar in China Cat Sunflower into I Know You Rider. This is likely the best “Rider” I have ever heard live and the flawless artistry on Bertha and Hell in a Bucket were dead on, and dare I say a bit livelier than the band’s front man Jerry Garcia, who died in August of 1995. I would be shot by the faithful for saying such a thing, but he is a master of his craft. Maybe it is the quality of the acoustics and technical expertise at the Palms and Hard Rock Theaters as I agree that a quality sound makes for a better show, but if he was off I think we would really hear it in a venue like these. He is not a replacement, but a masterful artist and technician of music he loves to play. The energy is different; it is not the Grateful Dead but a respectful homage to what was one of the hardest working bands in American music.