Archive for the ‘General discussion’ Category

A Bear’s Picnic

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

I have to miss it this year because it’s my wife’s birthday, but y’all should go!

4th Annual Bear’s Picnic
August 14th – August 16

Weekend long music and camping festival featuring Steve Kimock & Crazy Engine with special guest Melvin Seals, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Stir Fried, The Kind Buds, The Spikedrivers, The Hickory Project, Splintered Sunlight, Willlie Jack and the Northern Lights, Waylon Speed, Erthan, Dakini, Cabinet, Swampdaddies, Backwoods Experiment, Lumpy Gravy, Artie matthies, Juggling Suns, Post Junction, Steal Your Face, **Professor Louie and the Crowmatix 40th anniversary tribute to the spirit of Woodstock**
Instrumental Workshops, Kids music classes

For directions go to

Wavy Gravy: the movie!

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Saint Misbehavin’: The Wavy Gravy Movie will be showing in New York and LA starting this Friday! We will be screening at the IFC Center and the ArcLight Hollywood Theater from August 14th to 20th as part of Docuweeks, a program that qualifies us for the Academy Award!

See the film that Indiewire called “Perfectly executed and hugely entertaining” and Michael Moore described as “Wonderful…a moving tribute to a man who today lives his life at the service of others. Everyone at my film festival loved this movie!”

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award – Woods Hole Film Festival
Winner of the Spirit in Cinema Audience Award – Maui Film Festival
Audience Award runner-up – Traverse City Film Festival
Official Selection of SXSW — Full Frame — Santa Cruz — High Falls — Mill Valley

Now is your chance to see the film on both coasts!

The filmmakers will be at all the New York evening screenings and director Michelle Esrick will be at the LA screenings on the evenings of 8/18 and 8/19. Surprise guests at some screenings! See attachment below for more information.

323 Sixth Ave at West 3rd Street

Fri 8/14 12 noon, 5:10pm
Sat 8/15 1:30pm, 7:35pm
Sun 8/16 3:25pm, 9:45pm
Mon 8/17 12 noon, 5:10pm
Tue 8/18 1:30pm, 7:35pm
Wed 8/19 3:25pm, 9:45pm
Thu 8/20 3:25pm, 9:45pm

LOS ANGELES: Arclight Hollywood
6360 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood

Fri 8/14 2:00pm, 7:50pm
Sat 8/15 3:50pm, 9:45pm
Sun 8/16 12 noon, 5:50pm
Mon 8/17 2:00pm, 7:50pm
Tue 8/18 3:50pm, 9:45pm
Wed 8/19 12 noon, 5:50pm
Thu 8/20 12 noon, 5:50pm

See you there!

Michelle Esrick
Director / Producer

David Becker

D A Pennebaker
Executive Producer
John Pritzker: Executive Producer
Karen K. H. Sim: Editor
Emma Morris: Consulting Editor
Daniel B. Gold: Cinematographer
Emory Joseph: Composer
Jill Meyers: Music Supervisor

New Kaiser-Bralove CD “Ultraviolet Licorice”

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

Henry Kaiser left a copy of Ultraviolet Licorice on my doorstep while I was at the ball game yesterday.

I love the title – seems to me it’s derived from Bob Bralove‘s Infrared Roses and Jerry Garcia’s oft-quoted statement that the Grateful Dead is like licorice – you either love it or you don’t.

Michael Zelner forwarded this review to the GD Hour mailing list:

HENRY KAISER/BOB BRALOVE – Ultraviolet Licorice (Blove; USA)

Featuring Henry Kaiser on electric & acoustic guitars and Bob Bralove on acoustic piano and synths. Both Henry Kaiser and Bob Bralove have worked with members of the Grateful Dead at different times. Henry has sat in with Phil Lesh & Friends and Mr. Bralove played live with The Dead for a number of years during the drums and/or space segments. Hence, both of these men know the power of psychedelic jamming. Right from the gitgo of “Concrete Nebula”, those cosmic space/rock sounds and vibes are flowing. There is a strong give and take between both musicians, as well as an uplifting, transcendent wash of warm pastel colors. Even when both musicians play acoustic instruments, their sound is still quietly cosmic. When Henry switches to that fuzz/wah wah tone on “Red Queen”, you just want it to go on forever. It sounds as if the duo is playing during a thunder storm on “Heavenly Plaster” and it fits just right. Mr. Bralove seems to favor his acoustic piano and uses his synth selectively to create moods or set the scenes of the journeys these men take us on. If any of you out there have a problem with the Dead, please forget any references that I made here since this music is still wonderful, engaging and transformative. In the olden days (of the seventies), one might call this space music or perhaps early krautrock. Either way, it is consistently mesmerizing.

I spent the day listening to some recent and early period live Grateful Dead discs. I got to hear two versions of “New Potato Caboose” (my current favorite early Dead song), one from this year and one from 1968. I bring this up since it was fellow Dead fan Henry Kaiser who hipped me to the early live version. I also bring this up since keyboard wiz, Bob Bralove, has worked with The Dead for eight years, even producing a couple of their albums.

– Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery

Mike Seeger, RIP

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

From Suzy Thompson:

I got the email below tonight from Mike’s wife, Alexia. Mike went home from the hospital to be with family and receive hospice care a bit more than a week ago. He was a dear friend and a mentor to both me and Eric; each of us met him during our teenage years as fledgling musicians and he was an inspiration and also personally helped us to pursue the “real deal” traditional music. Eric recorded and performed with him. He helped me to get the NEA grant to study with Dewey Balfa, helped me get the Berkeley Old Time Music Convention going, and I spent the last 2 years working on the New Lost City Ramblers documentary which was a challenging project and Mike was always gracious and thoughtful. We will miss him more than I can express.  

Mike was one of the best friends that American traditional music has ever had; he helped so many musicians, in every kind of traditional music, including the blues. One of the most important things I learned from him was about how all the different kinds of vernacular old time music are connected: what we now call “old time” (fiddle & banjo music), country blues, Cajun music, bluegrass — all are part of a continuum and are not as compartmentalized as some people think.  

Mike was always eager to hear new sounds, always working to advocate for homegrown regional music, always wanting to encourage younger musicians, and older ones too, to play the music of what he called “the true vine”.  
Suzy T.

From Alexia:

Dear family, dear friends… Mike has completed his passage. He died this evening, August 7, some time before 9 pm. Family, home, peace. It’s what he wanted, and he did it so gracefully. It went too fast for me to comprehend–but he always said “I don’t want to linger!” Clear in what he’s about, as always.

The love coming from you and from friends all over is just amazingly helpful, sustaining. Thank you. Love——–A

PS Please pass on this news as you wish.

New old stuff in here

Monday, July 27th, 2009

This blog has just expanded! My first blog was called playback, started at the behest (and with the great assistance) of my good friend Christian Crumlish. I more or less abandoned it when I started this one.

Recently xian informed me that the free server we were using would no longer be available. Rather than send all the old playback posts down the memory hole, I asked, could we move them over to the Cloud Surfing site? xian consulted with our friend Michael Zelner, who keeps this blog cooking, and the two achieved the transplant in short order.

So there are a couple of years’ worth of “new” posts here, on a variety of subjects. Drop a search term or two into the box and see if you find anything worth arguing about!

Or at least take a look at one of my favorite posts, which had to do with a song by the Incredible String Band and other matters.

Review: Donna Jean Band at Vibes

Friday, July 24th, 2009

Donna Jean Godchaux Band at Gathering of the Vibes 7/23/09

Jeff Mattson had surgery a few weeks ago to correct a long-time problem with his lungs. He seems almost like a new man now; he has always been a powerful guitar player, but there was an exuberance in his playing last night that I found thrilling. And the rest of the band is right there with him – so much tighter and more entrained than they were at their debut in April.

This being the Vibes, their set had more Dead songs and fewer originals than they would normally present, but it was exactly the right thing for the occasion. They opened with “New Speedway Boogie” followed by “Sugaree,” and Jeff played the first of several jaw-dropping solos in the latter song. Donna’s song “Don’t Ask Me Why” was next, and very well received by the crowd.

“Eyes of the World” was another instrumental tour de force, with Jeff leading the charge. His solos in the song proper were astonishing; David Mackay played a kick-ass solo leading out of the song, and the band executed that ’74 post-Eyes thing with precision and awesome power. I don’t gush like this often, folks.

What came next was mind-blowing. Jeff led them gently into a groove on a D chord with an open E at the top, and then fleshed it out into a chord sequence that I quickly recognized as the Youngbloods’ “Darkness, Darkness.” What a great call, and the band did it justice and then some! Great jam in the middle, from which emerged an ensemble passage based on the solo in the original (on the album Elephant Mountain, a classic). Donna Jean’s singing on this was powerful and dark, as required by the text.

Another wonderful highlight was the return of “You Ain’t Woman Enough to Take My Man,” a Loretta Lynn hit that the GD did in ’73. This time around they laid into it with a nasty rock’n’roll beat.

Along the way we heard plenty of find keyboard work from Mark Adler, who I think has come to this style of music relatively recently (he does movie music in LA for a living) and now he has it in his veins like the rest of us. And Joe Chirco is always a monster on the drums!

I was just thinking the other day that it’s been a long time since I got them ol’ chills at a live performance, and I got ’em during “Darkness, Darkness.” But the whole set was a thrill. Go see the Donna Jean Godchaux Band!

Donna Jean and Davis

Friday, July 24th, 2009

DJ and Davis

I invited Tom Davis to join me at the Gathering of the Vibes in Bridgeport CT this weekend. He was particularly interested in seeing Donna Jean Godchaux, who he met in the ’70s and hadn’t seen in a couple of decades. Davis and I arrived at the hotel Thursday afternoon, and Donna Jean and her group arrived shortly after. She stared at Davis in amazement and then said, "I was just talking about you yesterday!"

This photo was taken a couple of hours later, in the hospitality tent at GOTV.

Davis and I were both blown away by the Donna Jean Godchaux Band‘s performance. Jeff Mattson was on fire! I’ve been a great admirer of Jeff’s guitar playing since the first of these events in 1996, and last night’s performance was the greatest I have ever heard from him. And the rest of the band was right there with him, energy-wise. It was thrilling.

Appropriately for this context, the band’s set was heavy on GD covers. But the great surprise was a new addition to their book: "Darkness, Darkness," from the great album Elephant Mountain by The Youngbloods.

Fire Arts Festival 2009

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Fire Arts Festival 2009
Rita making music in the Light Portal at the Fire Arts Festival in Oakland.

Are We Really?
Freddy “Are We Really” Hahne, who is among many other things the president of the Rex Foundation board. Here he is as a member of the Mind Shaft Society, just before their Flame Thrower Shooting Gallery opens for business.

More photos here.

Feldstein photos from Dan Hull

Monday, July 13th, 2009

These photos of Al Feldstein were sent to me by Dan Hull. He added a beautiful note to the original memorial post; I’ll paste it in here as well.

Al and Luke
Al and Luke at the Lomita house circa 1991

Al in 1980
Al at my wedding day 1980

The Reptiles
I believe that Al was the happiest when he was playin’ in the band.

Caryn, all Al’s friends and loved ones, My heart goes out to you all. I’m still in shock and just kind of numb. Al and I were like brothers since we were about thirteen. We literally grew up together. We made our way through adolescence with a friendship and brotherhood that was true Americana. Emerson Jr High, the first boy-girl parties, going steady, hangin’ out at the student union at UCLA and on the beach each summer at Sorrento Beach. We thought we were so cool. Then it was Uni High, punks again. We played together on the C-Basketball team our first year. We went 12- 0, undefeated league champs. Wow. Not so much because of Al and me but because of Bobby Shamberg and Fred Sakomoto. Then 11th grade. Al’s in student government, getting A’s and I’m barely passing but we were still best buds. I fell in with the stoner gang while Al was more in the in-crowd. We still played a lot of basketball, saw a lot of rock and roll shows together. The summer between 11th and 12th grades my friend Mike Viscovich and Gregg VanAllen turned me on to the Dead. Then I in turn turned Al on to them but he put up a fight as Al would. He came around and that’s how we came to be Dead Heads. We were silk screening and wearing Dead T-shirts before you could ever buy them. We saw a lot of shows together throughout the years. Great memories. So many.

Then he was off to Cal. It was tough on me but I made a lot of trips up to see him. Hangin’ out with the Piedmont gang then to Etna listening to the Bobcats then the Reptiles upstairs at Etna. Al and I wrote a song together that was a main stay in the Reptiles repertoire forever. That will always mean a lot to me. [Note: That song, “Watchin’ for the Bear,” can be heard coming out of “Playing in the Band” here]

In 1980 I got married and the boys came down to LA to play. What a set. What a party. Anyone who was there will never forget it.

I’m skipping ahead but this is getting too long. Al and Caryn married and lived in Burbank. I fondly remember lots of afternoons by the pool. In fact, my son Luke (20 now) learned to swim in that pool. Then May ‘94 we moved to Colorado and I didn’t see Al much after that. We still talked on the phone frequently. He visited the house in Longmont once. Then the Reptiles came to Boulder. That was a special night backstage at a Reptiles show with Luke. Then up to the Devil’s Thumb Ranch for Steve’s wedding. Another just fantastic day of good friends, good cheer and good music. That was the last Reptile set I saw and I only saw Al once after that. It was last Thanksgiving. Fred Luke and I were out for a week at Hemet and Sierra Madre. Al was real busy while we were there but made a point to come to my sister Mutia’s house the afternoon before we left. We had a great visit. Al and me, Fred Luke, Mutia and my mom. It was like we had seen each other often even though it had been many years.

Al was a fine person and my best friend. I will miss him dearly. Thanks to David for putting this together and thanks to all of you for sharing your memories. I would love to hear from ALL of you, especially Richard Briskin, Steve Kirshbaum and Randi Kinsler. I’m not a computer guy, real cowboys don’t use computers. You can reach me at

PO Box 366
Hygiene, CO 80533.

May God bless you all. Dan Hull.

P.S. Come visit me. I’ve got a beautiful, peaceful quiet little ranch here in Northern Colorado.

Hooray for Senator Al!

Monday, July 13th, 2009

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

A rare rainbow

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

We don’t get a lot of rain in the Bay Area in July. A light rain in Oakland at 8pm, with the sun shining brightly through a clear sky toward the western horizon, gave us this breathtaking sight. Friends all over the Bay Area reported seeing it.

The weird road home

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

I’m logging in from the Courtyard Marriott at Cleveland Hopkins Int’l Airport, but that’s not so strange.

The strange part is that I ran into some fellow Bay Area musicians in the waiting area: Big Lou’s Polka Casserole – four of ’em, anyway (although none of ’em was the one I know best, pedal steel player David Phillips) – Big Lou and David Golia and two of their horn players. We were all on the same fight out from San Francisco last Thursday, but it took Golia and me both til after the plane landed to realize who that familiar face was and where we knew each other from. So when we wound up on the same flight back, we got to talking, about music and business and mutual friends.

We were comparing notes on the festival gigs we’d just done , and shooting the shit about the many challenges of traveling with musical instruments, when a call came for volunteers to stay off the oversold plane so another party could get on board.

Golia and I decided to volunteer. We’re musicians with flexible schedules. We have tons of experience killing time and sleeping in strange beds. $300 travel voucher, a hotel room, dinner and breakfast, and for me, a first class seat on the 9:10 to SFO tomorrow
morning. For David, all the same amenities; but if no first class seat is available for him, he rides in back on our flight and gets a certificate good for a first-class upgrade on his next flight with Continental.

We were advised to wait until the last minute to board; we were nervous about being able to stash our instruments in the rapidly-filling overhead bins. The earlier you board, the better your chance of not having to gate-check your axe, and/or get into an argument with awesomely powerful airline personnel. We did board late, but we were able to get our guitars into the overhead bins.

And then they came onto the place to get us! So Dave with his bass and a tote bag full of sheet music, and I with my backpack and guitar, waved goodbye to our departing luggage and partners and returned to the counter, where many cards were being printed and written on. We each received our $300 travel voucher; a $12 dinner voucher and a $6 breakfast voucher; a hotel voucher; and instructions to make arrangements for the morning shuttle back to the airport. We were also given “overnight kits,” with a razor and a toothbrush and a comb and associated viscous substances. Emptied of its personal-size hygeine items, the pouch will be of some use in carrying small bits of hardware when it catches up with the wheelie suitcase, already en route to SFO

I used one of my meal vouchers to buy some trail mix etc for the flight, but I am told there will also be a real breakfast in my first-class seat!

I’ll be wearing the same clothes tomorrow that I wore onto the plane today. I was clean underneath ’em today, and I’ll be clean underneath ’em tomorrow. Maybe even more so, because I plan to have used the QUINOA SHAMPOO that the hotel provided.

Golia went to his room and I to mine. Skyped my missus, who shoved our cat Hugo’s face into the screen while I sang his many names through the speaker. I doubt he recognized me. Smooched both beloveds through the screen, said good night.

7.25 hours til that wakeup call. The Ambien is already affecting my typing. Good night!

Reptiles 10/4/96 UPDATED

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

We went to Colorado in October 1996 to play Steve Gayle & Mary Carol Cabibi’s wedding. Steve lined up a gig for us at the Boulder Theater on October 4 to help pay our travel expenses. Great wedding, great gig. Here are some highlights:

Scene of the Crime 3:34

Black-Throated Wind

An American Family->
Dust Bowl

Playing in the Band->
Watchin’ for the Bear

Night Crawl->
China Cat Sunflower->
Ramble on Rose

Sittin’ and Thinkin’->
Franklin’s Tower->
Midnight Moonlight->
Big River

Al wrote and sang “Scene of the Crime,” “Dust Bowl,” “Watchin’ for the Bear” (with Dan Hull), and “Night Crawl,” and he sang lead on “Black-Throated Wind,” “Playing in the Band,” “Ramble on Rose,” “Franklin’s Tower,” and “Big River.”

The Reptiles:
Al Feldstein, David Gans – guitar & vocals
Bob Nakamine – guitar
Tammie Horowitz – vocals
Steve Ramirez – bass & vocals
Steve Horowitz – drums

Feldstein in the WELL, part 1

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

I’m going through Al‘s posts in the WELL, my online hangout for the last 20+ years. Al was there for about ten of those years, and I am finding lots of fun stuff to post here.

The first Dead tape I ever heard was in Al’s apartment – Cow Palace ’74, a couple of weeks after it happened. What I remember most about hearing that tape was the was it captured the rattling of the whole building when Phil hit his note in the bridge of “China Cat.” Lo and behold, I found this in a post just now (I’m extracting Al’s posts for his family and to post some highlights):

deadlit.454.37: Alan Feldstein (fiddle) Thu 28 Feb 02 09:34

I was at the back of the floor for that show and the sound was astounding. When Phil hit the bomb on the E chord during the bridge of Chinacat it was like a lightning bolt out of the sky. Even though I have tapes I don’t remember much about the music except the Playing et al medley, but it was typical great 74 stuff. A great night!

From a discussion of the Dead’s 5-night run @ Winterland in October 1974, filmed for The Grateful Dead Movie:

deadlit.94.85: Alan Feldstein (fiddle) Wed 20 Jan 93 08:44

Went to all 5 of these and loved them all, especially 18th, 19th and 20th. Finally gittin some decent audience tapes this year but still no sbds. An interesting personal note (at least to my friends!). On 10/20/74 I took my last LSD trip. My reasoning, at the time, was that they were quitting so I would too. Well, at an early 80’s Greek show (I think 83) I somehow got hoodwinked into promising to take acid on 10/20/94 (the 20th anniversary) if the Dead were still touring! At the time I thought this was a commitment I would never have to meet. Well, as you all know, this is now less than 2 years away! And, by the way, do I get to extend the time given the 2 Garcia/illness breaks the band has taken? Every show I go to now one of my friends will say “only—more months left Al!”

Responding to a post by “Castle” about her first Dead show:

deadlit.125.76: Alan Feldstein (fiddle) Thu 21 Jan 93 09:00

… I stopped trying to turn people on to the Dead years ago because every time I took somebody the band played poorly. Of course, every show SOMEBODY thinks was great and SOMEBODY thought it was terrible.

You, Castle, might have a problem in the other direction. IMHO 12/16 was one of the best shows of 1992. Your next one is likele to disappoint to some degree.

PLEASE PLEASE let us know what you think of your next show!

And more interaction w/ Linda (castle) about the next run of shows in the Bay Area:

deadlit.125.83: Alan Feldstein (fiddle) Mon 25 Jan 93 15:26

Heard that last nite was pretty good, Castle. Are you the band’s new good luck charm?

deadlit.125.85: Alan Feldstein (fiddle) Tue 26 Jan 93 06:56

Good luck. Usually the spectacle of a CNY, Mardi Gras, or NYE is entertaining even if the show fizzles. By the way, it’s still possible to have a good time at at a GD show even if the band fizzles…

deadlit.125.92: Alan Feldstein (fiddle) Thu 28 Jan 93 09:09

Hey Linda, I bet you’ll run into somebody someday who will say that the show you thought was bad (I didn’t go but all my friends agree with you) was the BEST they’d ever seen! In my opinion, they’re all good AND they all suck!

And a few words about “The Days Between,” one of the last Hunter-Garcia compositions to enter the GD repertoire:

deadlit.134.57: Alan Feldstein (fiddle) Sun 30 May 93 14:56

Days [Between] is most unusual… it is a slow dirge, yet very gripping… I must say that the Vegas version was one of the most powerful GD moments I have ever experienced… it just goes to show ya what I have always claimed… in the GD universe, song selection means nothing… if they are gonna play good and show some interest it matters not what the tunes are… and when they are bad no combination of great tunes is going to save the show…

deadlit.134.59: Alan Feldstein (fiddle) Tue 1 Jun 93 09:34

I have mixed feelings about the tune, David…I can’t say I *LIKE* it, but I gotta admit it has become one of their strongest live tunes and that it has crept into my subconscious in a major way….I guess I like it after all!

From a discussion of “Jews and the Dead”:

deadlit.202.24: Alan Feldstein (fiddle) Sat 16 Jul 94 22:18

Well, there is either something to this or it is just an amazing coincidence. The numbers of jewish jeads is impossible to ignore. I’m jewish, but had about five minutes of religious training.. in fact, most of my religious knowledge comes from Charlton Heston movies and Dead songs!!

I was turned onto the GD by non-jewish friends and never realized the phenomenon until I started meeting heads in the seventies…

And this needs no context at all:

deadlit.306.79: Alan Feldstein (fiddle) Mon 10 Jun 96 10:39

Arguing about the ten best shows of 95, IMO, is a laughable pursuit at best. Kind of akin to to rating Pat Buchanan’s ten best social programs :-)

More recordings of Al & me (et al.)

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Fifty Miles from the Past” – The Bobcats at San Francisco State 7/5/74 – guinea pigs for a recording class. Not sure who’s on this other than Al (acoustic guitar and vocal), me (electric guitar), and bassist Ernie Yoshioka.

See the Light” – Bobcats at SF State 7/5/74 again. As soon as I find the June 1980 Reptiles set, you’ll hear what this song really sounded like.

It Must Be Love,” a Don Williams ballad. Al introduced me to the song at this session, in my apartment in Oakland on November 19, 1979

See the Light,” recorded in my apartment on 12/1/79.