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Published: 2008/05/28

Parish, Popper, Kinchla and Spin Docs Celebrate Bill Graham

Last night, a number of musicians with longstanding ties to the New York and Bay Area music scenes participated in a benefit for the Bill Graham Foundation Fundraiser at, appropriately enough, New York’s Fillmore at Irving Plaza. The evening featured numerous tributes to the late concert promoter, including video and slide presentations and speeches by both his sons and longtime Grateful Dead/Jerry Garcia roadie Steve Parish. The gruff Parish recounted a number of famous stories about Graham and his time with the Dead, reminding fans about Graham’s love for New York and experiences surviving the Holocaust. He also reminisced about the baseball games the Grateful Dead played against Graham and his staff, where Bob Weir would play first base, Jerry Garcia would man third base (‘though the ball would go through his legs’) and Pigpen would umpire because he ‘favored both sides equally.’
After an opening set by Moonalice, Blues Traveler’s John Popper & Chan Kinchla, who Graham managed before his untimely death, took the stage for an acoustic set that consisted of hits and well-known tracks like ‘Hook,’ ‘Alone,’ ’100 Years,’ ‘But Anyway’ and ‘Run-Around.’ For the first time since 2006, and only the seventh time since the Spin Doctors’ reunion in the early ’00s, Chris Barron sat in with his old friends on ’100 Years.’ Dark Star Orchestra percussionist Rob Koritz also joined the group on bongos for the selection, as well as ‘But Anyway’ and ‘Run Around.’ Next up, the Spin Doctors took the stage for a short, spirited set that opened with the newer song ‘Nice Talking To Me’ and included staples like ‘Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong,’ ‘Jimmy Olsen’s Blues’ and ‘Two Princes.’ As a nod to Graham, the group debuted a cover of the Grateful Dead’s ‘Ripple’ and brought out saxophonist Erik Lawrence for a take on ‘How Could You Want Him (When You Know You Could Have Me).’ Popper also returned to the stage for a lengthy jam built around ‘Shinbone Alley’ and ‘Lady Kerosene.’ The benefit ended with an extended set from Dark Star Orchestra, built around The Dead’s Fillmore-era chestnuts like ‘Mr. Charlie.’ As for Irving Plaza’s status as the ‘new Fillmore,’ Parish summed it up by saying, ‘It kind of looks like a cross between the Fillmore West and the Fillmore East.’

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