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Mike Gordon, Steve Kimock and Bill Kreutzmann,Tropical Jam III, One Love Gardens, Kauai, HI- 9/21

Tropical Jam III was announced on a Tuesday. It was to happen in three days on Sept. 21 with three musicians from some of the heaviest quarters of the jamband scene. Those who found themselves on Kauai, or able to get there in three days, could hardly believe their luck when Mike Gordon, Steve Kimock and Bill Kreutzmann showed up together on a Moloaa Valley stage and delivered a gig as a group that has no name. "This is our first gig," Gordon said about two songs into it. "This is Sue’s first gig," he said about his longtime partner, onstage with him offering backup vocals.

And so it was, an evening of many firsts, where about 300 showed up at the community shared, organic fruit farm dubbed One Love Gardens to confirm the rumor of this one-off gig.

Kauai is home to Kreutzmann, and Kimock had played with him before in an earlier Tropical Jam on the island. Promoter Dove Liddle said that the three were originally going to rehearse while on vacation, but then Kimock came up with the idea of giving the island public a taste. Buoyed by Kimock’s enthusiasm, Gordon acquiesced as a favor to Kreutzmann, Liddle said.

Helps explain the laid-back nature of the entire endeavor.

"This is a sweet spot, and before the show we had the most colorful salad I’ve ever seen," Gordon said from the stage after a first set cover of the Grateful Dead’s "Cumberland Blues."

Kids and dogs roamed freely and an absence of bugs set the masses at ease.

A fitting setting for an interpretation of Toots and The Maytal’s "Pressure Drop," which came next.

The set had opened with an instrumental jam, followed by the Dead’s "U.S. Blues" followed by a version of The Police’s "So Lonely."

A group chuckle fed the mirth of the crowd as the trio drove into "Car Carrier Blues" from Leo Kottke and Mike Gordon’s first studio disc, Clone.

And this was all before dark.

As the tiki torches were lit, the smoke mingled with the strains of "She Caught the Katy," by Taj Mahal.

When the partial moon announced the onset of Yom Kippur, a traditional bluegrass song, "White Freightliner Blues," lamented the "bad news from Houston."

By the time the set break came around, the fire dance troupe known as "Sol Fire" increased a sense of wonderment with a progressive take on Hawaiian-esque celebration through dance, laced with fire.

When Kimock, Kreutzmann and Gordon took the stage for the second set, the limited experience the three have playing together showed in the technical give-and-take, but still made for an interesting set. Kimock seemed to be in his "own little world" while Kreutzmann beamed from behind the drum kit like a kid caught up in the joy of it. Gordon took charge and laid down a pattern of traditional country, bluegrass and lesser known songs from the repertoire of the various projects the three have been involved in.

Kauai favorite Swampdaddy joined the trio during "Doing My Time" for a shot on the harmonica.

When the guy introduced only as "Dan" joined the group onstage for some guitar action on Van Morrison’s "Into The Mystic," Gordon announced "We’ve been a trio for five whole hours, and we’re expanding already."

Morrison’s classic was followed by the Grateful Dead’s "The Other One" co-written by Kreutzmann and Bob Weir, that ended the second set.

The final song of the two encores, "World Through the Windshield," brought an end to the first gig after nearly five hours.

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