Kreutzmann Burbridge Murawski, The Roxy, Boston, MA- 6/5
The small group of tie-dyed wearing, patchouli scented patrons watching the Red Sox at The Tam, a few blocks from the Roxy, had two questions.
"Where is the Roxy?" and "Will they have the Celtics game on?"Upon finding the club on Tremont Street, that crew must have been relieved to see two giant screen televisions on either side of the room with Game One of the Celtics-Lakers NBA Finals just underway.
About halfway through the first quarter of the game, out walked Bill Kreutzmann, Scott Murawksi and Oteil Burbridge onto the Roxy stage, smiling. It didn’t seem to phase them in the least that the room was only half full—they were there to jam.
And did they ever bust it out.
Having seen KMB at Lupo’s in Providence the week before, I was ready for some very outside-the-box improvisation. After all they had opened with "Scarlet Begonias" and then went off in the key of B major for a solid twenty minutes. But at the Roxy they decided to open with a fifteen minute jam before Murawski sang a word. By the time they actually played a song, "Louisiana Sun," they had already explored some very unusual territory, even by jam band standards.
Kreutzmann may be the leader, but he certainly has no qualms with letting bassist Burbridge and guitarist Murawski do whatever they please with the music.
At times it got out of hand, at times it worked. One magical moment occurred during the seque into "Franklin’s Tower" where Kruetzmann exploded into one of his patented four measure rolls across the toms, ending in a triplet pattern on the fourth bar that Murawski duplicated with synchronistic beauty. If you had one eye on the game you would have noticed this happened precisely while Kevin Garnett was flying from the free throw line to the hoop for a highlight reel power-dunk.
A delight to the senses.
Something that didn’t go over so well was when Oteil got into his scat-singing routine while soloing on the six string bass. He might have been going for a George Benson vibe, but it came off more like Al Jarreau. Another misguided decision of the first set was closing it with a slow tempo version of "One Way Out," although it was redeemed somewhat by Murawski’s second pass through the I-IV-V progression. He reeled off some Jeff Beck-style riffs that left the guitarists in the audience wondering why Scott’s name is not mentioned among the greats.
After a half hour set break, during which Paul Pierce was carried off the court with what appeared to be a season-ending knee injury, the band returned to the stage looking refreshed.
Sticking to its guns, the trio launched into another jam to open things up. Kreutzmann’s hi-hats started to sizzle as the music got into a syncopated groove, with Burbridge laying down the funk, and Murawski mixing in some chords that had neither a major or a minor flavor. They started leaning towards the former and it sure sounded like they were in G. Lo and behold, a "China Cat Sunflower" was upon us. Scott was able to morph the best of the two legendary guitar parts into one. Actually, he started off with the organ figure you hear on the studio version from Aoxomoxoa, then played the low end Garcia line, and finally came up with Weir’s freaky little melody that dances over the top. While Bobby has his hands full playing this line at times, Scott handles it like he wrote the part. He also sang it beautifully, which says a lot since his voice has never been his strongest suit.
Once the band found the interlude that usually sets up "I Know You Rider," they reached the highlight of the evening with a wonderfully played rhythm-lead part by Murawski, who very tastefully dropped in every D chord possible on the neck of the guitar. He topped that by finding every chord substitution that fit before launching into a single note flurry that was downright tingling.
After that only a tightly played "Bertha," which coincided with return of Paul Pierce to the court, could get a bigger rise out of the crowd.
The sound throughout the room was great. Plus, you could stand in the back, get right up on the rail, stand off to the side, sit on a couch, step outside for a puff, get a beverage without waiting ten minutes, and hoot and holler as the Celts finished off Game One with a victory. And how often do you get to see a drummer as relentless as Bill Kreutzmann play in a trio format? Twice in my lifetime.
A fine evening overall.