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Published: 2005/08/08
by Dan Alford

More Acoustic Jams

Quick Picks From the Disc Changer:
Garcia/Grisman, 5/92- That old compilation is worth digging out
Widespread Panic, Uber Cobra- Fixed the gaps, and I can’t stop listening.
The Slip, 7/2/05- Marco Benevento filling in for Brad; some great improv
The Duo, 7/17/05- My favorite recent Duo gig from All Good
Phil Lesh and Friends, 5/13/05- The second set’s opening suite is amazing
Gov’t Mule, Crossroads, 4/27/98
A hot little set for WNCW down south, this interview/performance has a wonderfully relaxed vibe, a chat about Mule with lots from Woody. It’s the rare FM broadcast where the interview segments withstand a couple of listens. Music-wise, there is a sparse, twangy "John the Revelator", but more importantly, a crazy version of "Afro Blue". The trio just plunges in, no fear, and carves out an outrageously intense performance. Repeatedly jaw dropping, only Derek can compare with the boldness that such Trane interpretations demand. But theses guys do it acoustic. The show also has a haunting, spirited "Raven Black Night", but the "Afro Blue" man, the "Afro Blue".

Steve Kimock and Fareed Haque, HSMF 7/2/05
This 80 minute set for a workshop in the California hills is a very evenly balanced mix of material from both guitarists, guitarists who couldn’t be any more different in tone or approach, and who seem to be genuinely inspired by each other. In fact, after hearing this set, an album would come as no surprise, especially considering Fareed’s steady pace in the studio. The recent Fareed Haque Group release, Cosmic Hug, even includes "fh/sk", also known as "FHSK Jam", co written with Kimock.
The gig opens with a whispery, languorous "Junct". Not the barnburner it often is with Garaj Mahal, it is, while beautiful, best appreciated as part of the overall scope and sequence of the set. Beginning quietly, if not delicately, the duo cover a range of material before shaking a little shimmy and leaping into serious freeform playing. An improv > Neil Young’s "Helpless" is amazing, something akin to SKB interpretations of "Many Rivers to Cross" and "Stella Blue". "La Petite Groove" is especially nice. On the on stage mic source (the soundboard is also available on LMA) Steve and Fareed can be heard discussing the songs before they play and telling each other when to solo. It’s totally unrehearsed and yet the groove at the end of "Groove" is so damn groovy. The set is capped with a stunning "Favorite Things"- 20 minutes with two acoustic guitar, and a great introduction wherein Fareed says he first heard Alan Hertz play on a KVHW version of the song.
Ratdog, XM Broadcast, Bonnaroo, 6/11/05
This almost acoustic set (Mark plays electric) opens with a short, tight "Ashes and Glass", the band bypassing the longer central jam that sometimes occurs (often with "Dark Star" themes back in the day). Instead, Mark peels off a wicked lead mid-song- Karan is different from just about every other guitarist in jamnation in that he tends to avoid continuous noodling and fills, and offer instead thoughtful, finely cultivated solos. In that way he is much more closely related to Garcia (at least from 1980 on) than others (Jimmy, Kimock).

The set also has a nice "FOTD" > "Corrina", the latter tune exploding into a soaring piano/sax blowout. Bobby pulls it back down right at the apex, as he has long been wont to do. The encore is a unique acoustic "Touch" with strong vocal work. There are certainly many more impressive acoustic moments from any given Ratdog tour- after all, the Dog’s roots are wooden- but this is a pleasant set worth playing with.

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