Email sent out today by John Bergan at Grateful Graphics (who will be donating several hundred dollars’ worth ofgift certificates to the KPFA marathon this Saturday, btw):
Grateful Graphics Gazette
Volume 4, Issue 1
For the first time in the history of this newsletter, we must put out an EXTRA edition cause that is what journalists do when something HUGE, HISTORIC, and HAPPY happens. And last night at The Warfield in San Francisco, the Grateful Dead community was out in force soaking in the vibes as put down by three of the core and their assembled cast of merrymakers.
What an outstanding evening. The boys covered relatively safe ground, but it all sparkled with freshness, joy and life. Smiles abounding from stage, Bobby and Phil visually communicating with each other, Mickey pounding about with his signature drumming gloves, and Jerry was there both physically in the form of the plush doll on Jackie Green’s amp and in the spiritual form that binds together this music we love so much. Happiness is dancing barefoot to the pure sounds of beautiful music as played by these guys last night.
And dance we did, as Playin’ in the Band kicked into gear. It was decently long and led into a Phil inspired jam heading toward Brown Eyed. Phil picked up the bass riff to Brown Eyed early and played it out for several minutes before launching the song. Up next Halfstep where Phil’s vocal range was beautifully displayed on the repeating coda “Across the Rio Grand-eo.” Phil was particularly sublime here. To end this first set, only 45 minutes but it set a firm foundation for the evening, a song that has truly become a Bobby and Mark Karan masterpiece, Come Together. Mark eats this alive and throw in Phil’s bass for the bottom end and what a powerful tune. The really terrific aspect of this song is the end when Bobby sings “Come Together” then pauses and adds a subtle and very trippy “Yeah.” One can get lost there and last night we did.
At the first set break it was very clear that there were so many friends everywhere that one’s eye could not see them all. New friends, old friends, people you love and people you wanna love. There is grate pleasure in knuckling folks at a special moment in an effort to share the wonderful feeling a moment can give. And damn, the band is back on stage.
A quick acoustic set was in order and it kicked off with Deep Elem. Bobby is making this song his own and he inflected many Jerryisms into the delivery. Friend of the Devil was delightful as always. But there is no holding Jackie Greene back and here comes Deal. Hey everybody! Ever heard an acoustic Deal with Phil on stand up bass? The quick straw poll taken just this morning by Zogby indicates that nobody has seen an acoustic Deal. The song was terrific, Jackie singing like a gun slinger, Barry laying down some steel to be believed, the whole thing just rocked! From over the top to the calm blue pond, Ripple brought us back to earth. Here’s hoping the whole world joined in with us for the ending “La-ta-ta-ta” – for surely if they did, this world would be a better place.
Another swift set break full of many smiling faces launched us into the ethereal world of China Cat. A lovely version that gives way to the Wheel after an Other One hint. You could hear Barry Sless channeling Jerry on the steel – flashback to Garcia’s first studio album and away you go on a ride where “you can’t let go and you can’t hold on.” Fun ride for sure. Bobby and Mark jammed us into the Other One and then Phil drops the bomb. You are now on the bus to never ever land and the ride is just getting started. And we mean started cause here comes Sugaree and it is a full on MONSTER. Jackie now owns this song. The clock on this version has to be the high side of 20 minutes. It just went on and on with wonderful jamming and terrific interplay between all band members, particularly Mark and Jackie. Up, down, all around, this is a Sugaree for the ages. WOW! From the peak back to the lazy summer home, we now have Eyes and it is splendid. Phil being particularly soulful, as he clearly believes we, the whole Deadhead community, are the Eyes of the World. He is right, so get out there and vote. Onward we go to the obligatory Throwing Stones. Mickey opened the tune by grabbing a fist full of mallets, striking the home run hitter’s pose, and swinging the mallets like at bat toward Bobby urging him to hit it out of the park. No problem as Bobby delivered an impassioned rendition. Clearly, the song needed an expert to drive the train, up steps Mark Karan who had the fires well stoked. Cool thing here is the syncopation at the end. While Bobby is ranting the final chorus of the tune, Mark was laying down some funky fusion that danced around Bobby’s delivery. My, my. One final word from Mickey, a bouncy Aiko that had the house shakin’. And what would a Grateful Dead concert be without bookends, the Playin’ reprise that closed the show was stellar. Drawn out, loads of interplay, leading to the lovely crescendo and Bobby’s opening line. This was some kinda sandwich folks. We finish with US Blues resplendent with Hippy Bill on the peace flag and wearing the goofiest hat in the world. That Hippy Bill he is one funny guy.
So it was a historic night in Deadland. And not without its humor. The evening opened with a taped message from Barack Obama who was clearly on a plane to somewhere… at the end of the message, he encouraged the crowd to sit and enjoy the show…what????!!!! This is the Grateful Dead pal… nobody sits, the kids they dance and shake their bones like Throwing Stones says. Pretty funny and it makes you wonder if Barack really inhaled. Anyway, the essential message of the evening is no matter who you vote for, get out and vote. Voice your voice, we have the opportunity to improve our world and together, we can.
It was an honor to be in attendance last night and it is an honor to share it with you good people who make up our extended family at Grateful Graphics. We will put out a newsletter toward March recapping December and January shows.
Until then, always remember, “If you got time to breathe, you have time for music…”
Your pals at GratefulGraphics.com