Phil Lesh Performs The Band and Workingman’s Dead
A look at last night’s Ramble via Nicki Bluhm’s Twitter
Phil Lesh hosted the first official Ramble at his San Rafael, CA club Terrapin Crossroads last night. Billed as a “special album night,” the show featured Lesh on bass, Tim and Nicki Bluhm on guitar and vocals, Chris Robinson on vocals and guitar, Ryan Adams & the Cardinals’ Jon Graboff on pedal steel, Railroad Earth multi-instrumentalist John Skehan (Railroad Earth), Chris Robinson Brotherhood’s Adam MacDougall on keyboards, Jaz Sawyer on drums and Lesh’s son Grahame on guitar and vocals. As a tribute to Levon Helm—whose Rambles inspired Lesh to open Terrapin Crossroads—the ensemble performed The Band’s self-titled 1969 classic in its entirety during their first set (the album’s tracks include “Across the Great Divide,” “Rag Mama Rag,” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” “When You Awake,” “Up on Cripple Creek,” “Whispering Pines,” “Jemima Surrender,” “Rockin’ Chair,” “Look Out Cleveland,” “Jawbone,” “The Unfaithful Servant” and “King Harvest (Has Surely Come)”). Lesh talked at length about Helm’s influence before kicking into The Band and mentioned that he planned to cover the classic album before the drummer’s passing.
As their second set and encore, Lesh and company then performed the Grateful Dead’s 1970 classic Workingman’s Dead in its entirety (including tracks like “Uncle John’s Band,” “High Time,” “Dire Wolf,” “New Speedway Boogie,” “Cumberland Blues,” “Black Peter,” “Easy Wind” and “Casey Jones”). The Americana-leaning album was directly inspired by The Band and the roots-leaning sound they ushered into rock in the late ’60s.
Lesh and will host another Ramble at Terrapin Crossroads this evening.
Here’s a recap of Lesh’s speech via Rolling Stone
I’ve been planning to do the album you’re about to hear before Levon passed, as the inspiration for these Rambles and for this whole place comes directly from him.
When I played Levon’s Midnight Ramble with my boys Grahame and Brian, along with Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams, a couple years back, I was so taken with the family atmosphere – breaking bread together in his kitchen and then walking through the kitchen door right onto the stage to play; Levon playing and singing with his daughter Amy, me with my boys.
I knew that I wanted to do something similar here at home. I spoke to Levon about it and sought his blessing, as it were – and he was very enthusiastic. He spoke of trading shows: we would go there, he would come here to play – family and friends making music together. He talked about acoustics and the woodwork, but really it was his big warm open heart that made the Barn so special.
So much of our vision comes from there – an intimate setting, collaboration with different musicians, multi-generationally friendly. It’s safe to say that this place would not exist if not for Levon’s example and encouragement. I’d like to dedicate not just the show, or the next show, or everything we do here, but the whole place, to Levon Helm.
Here’s a look a last night’s setlist and lead vocalists via Grahame Lesh’s Twitter
Across the Great Divide (CR)
Rag Mama Rag (TB)
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (CR)
When You Awake (TB)
Up On Cripple Creek (CR)
Whispering Pines (NB)
Jemima Surrender (GL)
Rockin’ Chair (TB)
Look Out Cleveland (CR)
Unfaithful Servant (TB)
King Harvest (CR)
Uncle John’s Band (all)
High Time (CR)
Dire Wolf (TB)
New Speedway Boogie (CR & GL)
Cumberland Blues (all)
Black Peter (CR)
Easy Wind (CR)
E: Casey Jones (CR/GL/TB)