This week I was able to view a webcast of Phil Lesh and Friends as they played the Grate room of Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael, California. For those of you who do not recognize the name, Phil Lesh was the bass player for the Grateful Dead. This was the best webcast I have ever seen; the sound was perfect and there must of been at least three, if not more, cameras working the stage. They played for more than two and half hours and there was never a blip in the transmission; at times I felt like I was watching a produced pre-recorded show.
I watch a lot of live TV and movies and this was impressive. When the band came on live the sound was ready to go and it all worked like the webcast guys have been doing this all of their lives. The really strange part of all this is that I only paid $7 to see the best webcast ever. I look forward to more of these in the future and other artists need to think about taking a page out of Phil’s book. I do not know how this could have been done any better, unless I had been in the audience in person. I look forward to getting up to San Rafael to see a show in the 250 person Grate room soon. Thank you for such a wonderful experience!
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.
As I trapsed through the library that is Netflix, I came across a gem. This documentary takes a snapshot of one of the hardest working bands in music history. They were on the road 4 to 6 months a year to keep food on the table. This American band was born from the chemistry of the mid-60’s and the flower power of the San Francisco area. The Grateful Dead documentary, Anthem to Beauty, was put together in 1997 and runs through the creation of the album American Beauty. This was an epic time with the creation of Truckin and Candyman which became staple for the band for decades to come. This is a great choice if you are looking for an introduction to one of nation’s most unique and eclectic bands in American history. If you are a head, and have not seen this one, it is worth a view.
This week, I hit the road and made the scenic trip up out of one desert valley and into another. I spent the night in Las Vegas at the Hard Rock, where I attended the Furthur show, which included Grateful Dead pioneers Bob Weir and Phil Lesh. Having seen more than 100 Grateful Dead shows, I can say this was a unique experience. The venue, the Joint at Hard Rock, was a phenomenal place to see a show, not a bad spot to stand, and the sound was spot on perfect. The show was simulcasted live on XM/Sirius that night and the feedback from fans was positive.
If anyone gets a chance to catch this version of what once was, don’t pass it up. Although the elder statesmen of the band are in their 60’s and 70’s respectively, they still put on a quality show for all to enjoy. Check http://www.furthur.net/ for a show coming to your venue this fall.