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Published: 2011/08/22
by Glenn H Roth

Mickey Hart Band, Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn, NY – 8/18

Photo by Kelsey Winterkorn

Mickey Hart – sporting long hair, glasses, a black T-shirt, and red-white-and-blue wristbands – orchestrated music like a mad-drumming scientist as his new band made its East Coast debut.

The lineup, featuring keyboardist/trombonist Tim Hockenberry, vocalist Crystal Monee Hall, guitarist Gawain Mathews, bassist Vir McCoy and percussionists Greg Ellis, Ian “Inkx” Herman, Sikiru Adepoju, played two sets of original compositions and Grateful Dead tunes. An intimate crowd of tie-dye fans filled the floor at the carnival-like venue that has a bowling alley adjacent to the stage and TVs broadcasting multiple sporting events.

Hart began the evening with two new songs “Let There Be Light,” and “Cut the Deck.” “Let There Be Light,” had Hockenberry and Hall trading lead vocals and Hart pounding away with his magic tongs. Later, the song switched gears to a more electronica feel behind the trombone playing of Hockenberry and the guitar playing of Mathews. “Cut the Deck,” began with spacey rainforest sounds reminiscent of the Grateful Dead 1990 tour. And once Hockenberry began singing, the tune took on a Bruce Hornsby feel with the refraining chorus, “All I ever wanted was to show me your love.” The band got rock ‘n’ rolling with the back-to-back beloved combination of “Scarlet Begonias” and “Fire on the Mountain,” as the crowd was moving and shaking while Mathews recreated Jerry Garcia’s familiar wa-wa sound. Mickey and the gang appeared to be full steam ahead but the next number “Supersonic,” – a world music tune – erased much of the momentum built up from the Dead songs. Next came “Time Never Ends,” which took about 7 minutes to take an interesting turn behind crunchy guitar playing, a variety of percussion sounds, and harmonizing vocals. At the conclusion of the song, the band departed the stage and took a 15-minute break.

Hart returned to the stage by himself and announced he was going to let the audience hear what the sun sounds like. However, the scientific music presentation was cut short by technical difficulty.

The rest of the band then rejoined Hart on stage for “Heartbeat,” an instrumental that began with a “Throwing Stones,” tease before moving into a spacey alien-like jam accompanied by sounds of nature. The band then segued into “Slow Jo Rain,” that began with fast-paced drumming. The cool crisp playing of eight musicians melted all together to produce a rich, full sound. Following Hockenberry’s chorus refrain of “Circle of Rain,” which sounded very much like Peter Gabriel, the pace picked up again as Hart’s time with Particle (as Hydra) was revisited as the three percussionists produced an EOTO-like jam. At the end, the crowd cheered and applauded but again the momentum slacked a bit with the next numbers: “Djinn, Djinn,” and “What Stole the Show.” The familiar “Brokedown Place,” resuscitated life back into the audience as they swayed and sang along with Hall’s soulful voice. The band closed out the second set with “Starlight, Starbright,” which featured a high-energy jam that was well received.

Hart thanked all the fans for coming to see the band and introduced all of his bandmates. They all returned for an encore of the high-spirited tune “Iko, Iko,” that had Hart on lead vocals and got the crowd grooving and singing.

“Take this feeling home and do something good with it,” Hart shouted to end the evening’s festivities.

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