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Published: 2005/07/07
by Dan Alford

Summer Listening

Quick Picks From the Disc Changer:
U2, Rattle and Hum
Garaj Mahal, 7/24/04- A long, long late night set- Guitar Slut & Mercy, Mercy Me
Phish, 12/1/03, Disc 2- Tweezer > 2001 > YEM
The Slip, 9/15/04- Rocky Mountain sets from New England’s best and brightest
Sam Kininger, 2/6/04- Sam kills
Car: Wayne Shorter, Footprints Live- What a pristine recording!
Grateful Dead, Warfield, SF 10/11/80
No one can deny the love that is acoustic GD, and in 1980 there is a bevy of sets from which to draw your bliss. Admittedly the set lists only vary very slightly , but each one is worth a listen, and a fantastic soundtrack for a country drive. 10/30 and 10/31 have been long time favorites, but 10/11 from the Warfield run has recently captured my fancy, largely because of the spectacular versions of Cassidy and Heaven Help the Fool. The former is furious, with Bobby, Jerry and Brent all meshing like clockwork and prodding each other into wickedness. The latter is one of the hottest renditions of Bobby’s anthem out there. The early charges and peaks that seem so very hard and high pale in comparison to the final passage’s sizzle and blister. Check out the fine soundboard on the LMA.
JGB, Keystone, Berkeley 7/9/76
76 JGB is the stonedest music I know- the Gospel leanings, the slow, slow Dixie Downs, the free form dances of Melody, Don’t Let Go and Lonesome and a Long Way all mark the underlying groove. This second set from 7/9/76, only a few nights after the amazing, but discontinued Don’t Let Go release, has recently surfaced under the good graces of that saint of the taping world, Charlie Miller. The collection features a plodding, deep TLEO followed by a hopping Tore Up, with Garcia pealing out lick after lick over Keith’s steady grooving rhythm. When the piano rises to the spotlight, the lead is a classic blues that ignites a scorching blast from the guitarist- raw and rocked out. A central Stir It Up blows in, breezy and mellow. The rhythm matrix of Kahn, Godchaux and Tutt is utterly perfect here in its comfortable nonchalance, backing Garcia ‘s dips into wavery, bent slurs.
The tempo rises for a ripping version of Mystery Train, Tutt’s kit shining through again, paired with a roaring version of The Stranger, a brilliant Donna moment- a chilling read of the tune. Thus far the set is free from long form jams, although it is consistently bright and fun. An oozing, goopy, 17-minute Don’t Let Go, however, lets the mind wander in a mellow stroll, before the set blazes to a climax with Ride Mighty High. This set may very well exemplify a dusky summer evening.

Warren Haynes and Friends, Bowery Ballroom, NYC 2/2/05
It’s only half way through the year, and the two biggest concert seasons still lie ahead, and I’m positive that nothing to come can trump this powerhouse performance. Warren, Schools, Medeski and Matt Abts, with Skerik joining later, destroy, absolutely destroy New York’s finest little venue like mighty gods. It’s a nice, long two setter, but I can rarely make it past the first four tunes without going back for a second listen. The gig opens with a huge Hammer and Nails, completely overwhelming with all pistons firing. At the final drop, the audience chants the chorus eight or nine times in perfect clarity, and the supergroup tears into ScoMule. It may the greatest transition ever. After slicing through the sleek instrumental, which is somehow all the more satisfying with Medeski working it out, they jump into a swollen, swaggering Politician. Not just any band can cover Cream like this. And that’s followed by an MMW-ized Hey Joe, with Warren running from Tupelo to Buffalo and everywhere in between. The quartet of tunes is merely the prelude, but it is a devastating prelude from a devastating show. REQUIRED LISTENING.

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