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Columns > Itzys Illusions - Steve Itzkowitz

Published: 2004/01/03
by Steve Itzkowitz

Phun in Phunkin’ Phoston with Phil and Phish

Happy Holidays and welcome to the latest craze in reality music columns. ‘Tis the season for sharing, giving and caring but it is not the season of the Witch . . . much to my dismay, but alas there was a ton of music as usual. So grab some cocoa and put another log on the fire because here we go
. . .
Phil Lesh and Friends, Tuesday November 25, 2003 The Orpheum Theater-Boston MA
Game #2. I was a healthy scratch for the Monday PLQ show. Apparently there were plenty of good seats available, but I was home for Thanksgiving not to be on tour. Anyway, a last minute scratch to A.L Sleeker, who I went to my first Grateful Dead shows in Providence in September of 1987, put Mo in the line up for the show. Mo, who I believe I attended the most GD shows with, is always fun to go with to a show and this night would be no different. I was supposed to meet Mo and our other buddy Hammer in the Beantown Pub next to the Orpheum. But, I was supposed to meet Mick Pacific and his valet Ms. G at the bar as well. Once I got in there, I saw Mick and G. I sat down had a Sam Adams, it is Boston after all, and finally saw Hammer and Mo as they were on their way out of the bar. Oops. Well we all headed over together. The security was light. No pat down unlike two years ago, where it was post 9/11 and security was all over especially at the door. Anyway I thought our seats were in the balcony, but they were like row S down stairs. The Orpheum is set up like an Opera House, so think the Warfield in SF or the Wiltern in LA, but much much older. We saw Mick and G and invited them over to sit with us as well. Hammer was upstairs. The PLQ came out flying with guess what, yes a jam to open the show. This band just plays with such cohesiveness and support and I know I’ve said this before, but the way they re-energize the Grateful Dead songs, especially the ones the modern GD never played is their main asset. The jam prior to Alligator was simply blue grass meets funk grass meets Dead grass. I had a good Itzy’s Shuffle going on during that. We did make it upstairs for a traditional beer run during "Midnight Train" where we saw Hammer and chatted for a bit before going down for the end of the first set. Oh the Passenger was lights out too. Everyone in the room was dancing and going bezerk. The Wook of the night was up in the first balcony on the side, (think where Lincoln was when he was shot) and from the get go this guy had the shirt off and was going nuts. The second set took a little while to get going for me. It turned very 1973 when they kicked into the "1/2 Step" with everyone in the crowd singing along. The "Here Comes Sunshine">"Midnight Hour" was really top notch as well. And did I mention they played "Dark Star?" The complete set list is below. Once the lame encore "Patchwork Quilt" (my uncle Rick dubs that Arena Rock) began, Mo and I hit the bricks and made it over to Grand Chou Chou in Chinatown for the traditional post game meal of Singapore Rice Sticks and of course Chicken Fingers, extra duck sauce please. I understand the PLQ is done for the time being. I’m glad I got to experience this line-up over the last 4 years and they gave me a whole new appreciation of songs that were not played when I saw the boys. So with that, thank you Phil Lesh and Friends.
Random 5 Talking Cartoon Canines
1. Astro Jetson—He was one of the first dogs ever to talk (we’ll get to Brian of the "Family Guy" don’t worry) and was supposed to be the "Jetsons" guard dog. One of my favorite moments was the episode when Astro’s real owners came looking for him and called him by his real name, Tralfaz. Very random, I know.
2. Chopper—the large white bull dog from the "Yogi Bear" show. He was always protecting the little wussy duck, Yakky Doodle (think Tweety rip off). His trade mark line was, "you shouldn’t have done that to my pal Yakky," and he would clobber the offender. He was voiced by Vance Colvig who incidentally voiced Goofy on some of the early Disney shorts.
3. Mr. Peabody—the red bow-tied dog who owned Sherman on the Rocky and Friends show back (1959-61), He was based on actor Clifton Webb who was "smug, snide and condescending." Each adventure would go back in time in a time machine and the would have some terrible pun to end it. For example, when they visited William Tell we learned that he helped inspire "Tel-ivision", get it?
4. Brian—from the "Family Guy" is the modern day Mr. Peabody except that he lives with Peter Griffin and family who was originally supposed to be an Archie Bunker type but has morphed into the most missed cartoon since the days of Wally Gator. Oh why did Fox drop that show is beyond me. The fact that he smokes cigarettes and drinks is just brilliant.
5. Superdog—from the original "SuperFriends." He, along with Marv and Wendy were the predecessors for the Wonder Twins, Jayna and Zan, plus of course Gleek the Wonder Monkey. I have a Wonder Monkey, but I don’t call it Gleek. Plus Gleek was blue and what on earth was he doing with a bucket.
PHISH @ The Tweeter Center, Tuesday December 2nd—Boston MA
The big 20th Anniversary show, who was going to sit in ? What were they going to play? Why was it so f’n cold out? All these questions and more were answered as the Phurry Phour answered the bell and came through the door with a solid evening of music. I met up with SegsOne and her beau AvodaMarc and we headed into the wind chilled Back Bay. Marc is one of those fans who has to get there prior to the show and has all that pre-game anxiety that I used to have back in the day but for the GD. You’ve got to admire his passion which is a common trait amongst the PHISH fans. We took the "T" to North Station and there were a few Phisheads on the train but once we hit North Station, there were tons of people on the streets looking for tickets. Apparently in Albany, there were plenty of tickets to be had but on this night it didn’t look so good for the miracle people. Well, my cousin Matt met me across the street and we headed over to the 4s Pub for a pre-game meal, which was a good call for a couple of reasons. First of all the bar has old memorabilia all over the walls but is geared of course to Boston fans, especially hockey. Real quick—-they had Ted Donato’s Harvard #6, former B’s goalie Cleon Daskalaskis #35 from BU, Craig Janney #15 from BC and the most random one of all, #22 Lyndon Byers of the San Jose Sharks, who was a former Boston Bruin. At the bar, I decided to call my friend Koch who I knew was going be at the show. I called what I thought was her cell phone and got her home phone and her husband answered. Who in turn told me she was also at the 4s and lo and behold after a lap around the room I found her and a few other friends to boot. I always like seeing West Coast folk in other cities especially if I had no idea they were going to be there. This night would be no different as I looked up and saw Jeff Kravitz chatting with some friends and went up and said hello. He was on the 4 show run but getting paid as he is a world class photographer. Check out his work at Finally the bar emptied and we headed over to the Fleet Center for the show. It took as a few minutes to get in as I tried to upgrade our seats as the mail order tickets I got happened to be behind the stage. Well they would not allow trade in mail order tickets so we would have to rough it or would we? Matt and I headed up to our seats and I ran into a few folks that I worked with up at camp (See Past Illusions). Shout outs to G-Love, Jules and Ritz, it was great to see them. They told me that SegsTwo and GK were in section 11, so we went down to say hello. Anyway, the YJ ladies were in the 2nd row at center ice off of the floor with plenty of seats around them. So Matt and I went down to talk to them and we never left the 1st row off of the boards to the left of the soundboard. It was a totally cool scene around us. I was hoping that we were in the penalty box but that was directly across from us. The Phish took the stage around 8pm and began with a Reggae inspired "Harry Hood." The reggae feel was evident throughout the show. During "Ya Mar" and of course later on in the 2nd set with "Boogie on Reggae Woman" in which the entire Fleet was dancing and boogying. The show itself was solid. The 1st set closed with a fine version of "Down with Disease" and the 2nd opened with Lou Reed’s "Rock n’ Roll." A lot of cover tunes, but that’s how they got started. During their version of Edgar Winter’s "Frankenstein" they sandwiched the jam around "Kung" which was a little much for this hombre, however once they went into the Talking Heads "Cities" I was back on the same page. I consider myself a novice Phish fan at best, I see them once or twice a year, but I enjoy their shows immensely and I’ve seen them develop and grow older as well. I’m actually going to be in South Florida during the New Years run and I’ll check out another show as well. There was no post game heroics. Just a f’n long cold walk to find a cab and then your typical wind sprints around the Prudential building trying to find your friends. No big deal.
Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Friday December 5, 2003 House Of Blues, Los Angeles
I caught the last 40 minutes of this show, but it was an interesting 40 minutes. For some reason they had Robert as the early show and J.C Chavez from n’ Sync as the late show. So when I arrived there were all these teenyboppers outside waiting to go into the House of Blues. Very strange sight considering it was a Friday night. Personally, I thought they should’ve had it reversed. Fortunately I was escorted into the club along with JRap and we joined up with GT and Lady T. As we entered, the Family Band was in the midst of a ripping cover of Led Zeppelin’s "Good Times, Bad Times" but with a familiar face sitting in as Jeff "Skunk" Baxter was in the house. They segued into Jimi Hendrix’s "Purple Haze" and Jeff left the stage and the Family Band kicked up into high gear. All of a sudden one of the crew from HOB was on stage trying to shut the curtain as the Family Band is just jamming. I’m watching all of this go down and I look at my watch, err phone, and figure they have at least 10 minutes left, boy was I wrong. Jeff Baxter came back out and they were jamming even harder and once they hit the crescendo and brought it down to close to set, the crew shut the curtains on them. Robert Randolph had to peek his head out of the curtains to say thank you and good night. Well while he was doing that about a half dozen security guards ran up on the stage as there was some sort of skirmish behind the curtain. From what I gather it was between the two tour managers and no band members. Let’s put it this way, I think the Family Band will have a new place to play the next time they are in Los Angeles. That was an interesting little scene.
Greasy Beats and Friends, Wednesday December 10, 2003 The Temple Bar, Santa Monica, CA
There were rumors circulating around that the Greasy Beats would have some very special guests sitting in with them for their late night show at the Temple Bar. Well sure enough, as they took the stage, led by saxophonist, Joel Bowers, if you looked around the room you could see Robert Walter and Chris Stillwell floating around the establishment. Are we talking stealth Robert Walter’s 20th Congress? Well sort of, but not yet. The Greasy Beats hit the stage and came out with pure energy. Walter was standing by the stage (think on deck circle in baseball) ready to join the band once Bowers gave him the go ahead. Speaking of Bowers, he was like a traffic cop up there, but that’s what happens when you are the leader of the band. Bowers kept teasing the fact that they had some very special guests and finally asked them to join him. The first two out of the shoot were Robt. Walter and Chris Stillwell, so no big surprise there, but they fit in very nicely. Bowers actually left the stage to check on how much time they still had and came back and re-joined the jam he had started. It was time to switch it up as Stillwell exited and RW2C bassist and Black Eyed Pea, Mike Fratantuno and Grey Boy All-Star, Mike Andrews (Elgin Park) joined the fray. It’s always a pleasure to see Mike play live. After a huge jam, Stillwell came back on and Fratantuno exited and now we had our Stealth show, Stealth Grey Boy All-Stars that is. After a huge jam, the remaining Greasy Beats came back on and jammed with the Stealth GBA. In fact, it was cool to see their keyboardist sit next to Robt. and take over his jam. On this night the Greasy Beats got to play Santa Claus and delivered an early gift for the music community of Los Angeles.
Random Top 5 Shows I’ve Picked Up as of Late
1. The Nashville Sessions—1969 with Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash. Need I say more? I think this was a commercial release at some point, but I’ll tell you what it’s just pure American music at it’s best. The two of them singing "You are My Sunshine, my only sunshine" is going on my nephew’s mix CD that I’m making for him.
2. Grateful Dead-11-17-73 U.C.L.A Pauley Pavilion—It’s classic 1973 GD and the quality is superb. Props to Fritz for firing this one of for me. The Playin>Uncle Johns>Morning Dew>UJB>Playin’ may be close to over 70 minutes long.
3. Jimi Hendrix—1968 Cafe Au Go Go, NYC —Wow!! What a great quality recording. A very psychedelic Little Wing opens the show. Sitting in on this night were Elvin Bishop, Buddy Miles and Paul Butterfield amongst others. They must be jams because jelly don’t sound like that!!
4. Warren Zevon—3-11-2000 Bellcourt Theatre, Nashville, TN After Warren checked out earlier this fall I happened to fall upon a couple of shows that I had picked up in trades. I saw Warren play only once back in 1996 for 3 songs at a GD Art Benefit in Santa Monica. This show gives me an appreciation of how fearless he was both in music and in life. Talk about quality!
5. Run D.M.C —-Apollo Theater 1985. Once again the hook up from Fritz and I’ve got some classic ol’ school rap in my collection. It’s right before they released "Raising Hell" and it’s pretty scary how many songs I know all the words to. The late great DJ, Jam Master Jay owns this show.
The Radiators, Friday December 12, 2003 The Henry Fonda Theater, Los Angeles
"Every once in a while you need a good Rads show," Uncle Beas, 12/12/03. Well he was right, but it might have been the best kept secret of the evening as it was a friends and family show at the Henry Fonda Theater. The Radiators hit the stage around 11:40 as the head liner for a Battle of the Bands that took place earlier. Well to be perfectly honest with you it must’ve been a pretty small battle because the house total by the time we arrived was 130 and trust me there were not that many folks in there by the time the Radiators hit the stage. But that wouldn’t matter at all. The Radiators played their hearts out as usual and sounded great. They get older and older but the sound gets stronger and stronger. With the sparse crowd, it meant that we could go back and forth to the bar with no problem. Uncle Beas, fresh of a recent tour of England, is on a Stella Artois kick and guess what the flavor of the night was? You guessed it. Stella and the Radiators and plenty of dance room to boot. It’s amazing how long these guys have been around. Beas had just seen them play with John Bell of Widespread Panic at the Bobby Silverman tribute over the summer in Colorado. This was my first show since last September at the House of Blues in Los Angeles and looking through my ticket stubs recently I’ve realized that I’ve been seeing them since 1991. Wow. There weren’t many covers, but rather mostly Radiators originals from what I could tell. The Wook of the Night was a New Orleans Wook. This guy was dancing all over the room, but Beas pointed out that he had cowboy boots on and more than likely was on tour with the Radiators. Things really got rockin’ when they launched into "Ace in the Hole." The boogie shoes were on for the rest of the night after that one. They played until close to 2am and you know what I’m looking forward to the next time I see them. In my estimation, the Radiator fans are the most devoted fans out there.
Pick Up The Pieces
Count me on the support for the 64 man Hockey Fight Tournament up in Winnipeg later this year. I just hope they get some more name players to join the tournament. Imagine getting to see Chris Nilan drop the gloves once more or even better yet, Tiger Williams.
Random Celebrity Sighting: I passed by my mortal enemy Bob Saget the other day in Smart and Final, a mini-wholesale store. If that wasn’t random enough, the very next day I walked by Saget again in Santa Monica as I was walking up the stairs to get my car in a parking structure. And they say things happen in 3’s, so stayed tuned.
Beas actually ran into Run D.M.C recently as well. He was in an office in Hollywood which also houses a studio for Run D.M.C. Well sure enough he was in the lobby and coming down the stairs was Daryl McDonald and behind him was Beas’ co-worker who was silently going nuts and pointing at the glasses wearing member of the duo.
RIP to Moodog Spot (Larry Latham) who died in the wrestling ring in Tennessee earlier this month. The Moondogs (Rex, King and Spot) were managed by Capt. Lou Albano and wreaked havoc in the WWF in the 1980s.
Check out Rodeo Cold the next time you are in Los Angeles. I saw them at the Cinema Bar recently and they’ve added Tim Laker to the mix. He can play. It’s a great mix of rock and funk.
Okay so the ARod for Manny deal didn’t go down, but the Red Sox still have the most potent line up in the AL. Plus the additions of Mark Belhorn and Pokey Reese should not be over looked.
I saw "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" for the first time in years recently and I actually forgot about the ending when Hermie pulls the teeth out of Bumble. So classic. Hopefully I can catch the Heatmizer before the holiday season is up.
Who’s My Plus One?
Happy New Year and look for my Year in Review next month!!!

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