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Published: 2001/09/18
by Jim Crichton

S.L.A.C. Fest- Aperion Center, Coventry, RI 9/15

The Sustainable Living Awareness Concert and Festival

Ah well, all the kind people who made the trek to Coventry got treated to a smorgasbord of love in a short time- big thanks to the musicians, Apeiron folks and all the volunteers for obviously not slacking in putting together a one day festival with a wealth of wonderful choices, all of which had many short and long term benefits. We were all beneficiaries of a terrific vibe that lightened the mood of even the most media-bombarded individuals. Slip stickers sold for $2 a pop and all proceeds were donated to the Red Cross. There was certainly an undercurrent of sadness in the hearts of many, but for this day all were asked to set their receivers to the kindness channel and to broadcast only harmonious thoughts.

Leslie Helpert got started late as stage issues needed tweaking, but she did a great job breaking the ice and was joined by Geoff Scott of Miracle Orchestra for the majority of her shortened set. The weather cooperated dutifully with her, the warmth of her raconteur troubadour style was echoed by the benevolence of the smiling sun and the cloudless sky. She’s a talented performer- spend a minute or 5 with her if you ever get the chance, it’s sure to make you re-evaluate how you think.

Paul Geremia followed Leslie and was fun in a Jorma kind of way, roughly the same age and with a similar delivery, although not quite the same range in his repertoire.

Bob Gulotti’s quartet was next and were amazing, hard to believe they are playing a small club in Providence every Tuesday, I’ll be missing Geoff Scott’s side project at Matt Murphy’s in Brookline to see this at least once ;) Hal Crook had a plethora of effects on his trombone and Bob was a great challenge for Adam and Andrew to follow. Dave Zinno kicked it on upright, just an awesome choice for this fest, I don;‘t doubt they will be playing more visibly soon.

Gruvis Malt hopped on after this. I missed most of their set because Marc was playing up near the Apeiron house with Mackie Burnette in a version of Panorama. Mackie is a steel pan guru, another incarnation of this band warmed up for The Slip at Lupo’s a while ago. I think Jason mentioned during this set that Marc was like ketchup, in that he goes with anything ;) He and Pete Barr certainly set a nice background for Mackie to paint with happy Caribbean tones. Marc has interviewed Mackie for an NPR piece in the past and they played quite seamlessly, although Marc was playing the red bass through the Polytone for this, since his Edens were on the mainstage all day.

John Scofield was also late getting on; I’ve seen his band try and get comfy on a stage time times in a row now, and this was a record for quickness, but it still ate into the schedule a bit. Eventually they got rolling did some interesting stuff, as always. John definitely visits areas rarely seen by most. Adam Deitch is a marvel, absolutely tore the skins off of Andrew’s kit and still had plenty left for later, all in all a nice lead in to The Slip.

The trio finally hit the stage around 9:00 or so (an hour and a half late as they pushed back to make sure everyone got a good slot), They opened with that I guess could be called "You'll Find an Apartment" which segued into "Johnny's Tune." Sco jumped onstage and took a sweet 4-5 minute lead and supported Brad later on, finishing up by point-counterpointing with him, bringing smiles to all. "Nellie," was next and Marc just wrung some gorgeous notes out of the white Fender during his leads. Brad and Andrew were up to the challenge and this stretched out nicely, Brad always seeming to find a bit more when Nellie is in attendance. "Once" and "Get Me With Fuji" were the next 2 and I remember Marc giving Brad a look as he hit the first of the notes of "Once," which repeat rhythmically for days on end afterwards ;) Brad 's voice was great, he hit all the highs and it was nice to see Stanley Gemmell in the front row appreciating the lyrics so openly (for those who don't know him, SG is an amazing poet and has added Slipness to shows in the past). There was a "One Love" minute in here as well, a nice addition, before closing "Once." "Fuji" is another that sticks in your brain long afterwards, an intoxicating rhythm that sends messages to every moveable muscle ;) As the set continued and they got the 15 minute signal, they decided to go with "Rhythm-a-ning," a song they all can step out on. Andrew always floors me here, similar to "Trane-ing," he just gives up every bit of himself during this one. I was kind of expecting them to segue into "Dogs On Bikes" (they have often gone the other way) but they wrapped up here left the stage briefly. They came back out and broke into "Stand By Me," just playing, as the audience picked up the vocals. Truly a beautiful moment that said everything that needed to be said about how BAM feels about their fans and the world we live in and create from. Brad eventually covered the lyrics soulfully, and Leslie was feeling it at the side of the stage and jumped up to help with the last verses. After this they invited Adam to come onstage and hold down Andrew's spot while he whipped off a couple of cymbals and hung the steel pan for a nice composition that had Zion-ish moments, which are always among the best things that can happen at a Slip show, IMHO. A nice low hum of ecstatic satiety reverberated throughout the field as they thanked us for being in the moment with them, and it still lingers nicely at this writing.

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