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Reviews > Shows

Published: 2012/11/13
by Juniper Rhodes

Phil Lesh, Terrapin Crossroads San Rafael, CA – 10/20

Phil Lesh’s Terrapin Crossroads venue on the water is a comforting place. There is an inimitable ease when it comes to finding the venue, passing through the door and waiting around for the show.

Everybody on stage, no matter the caliber of musician, started to sound pretty good once the music began with Lesh at the helm on the Saturday night October 20 show, one of the four Harvest Hoe Downs which concluded the following night. Lesh took the lead on “Mississippi Half-Step” to launch the approximate two hours of music that included 17 songs.

Lesh says he is fortunate to be alive – having undergone a liver transplant about 15 years ago– and this appreciation is seemingly reflected in the music he creates. On this night he was joined by his two sons Brian, who played the mandolin, and Graham, who played the guitar. Both sang. Ross James, a pedal steel and guitar player, stood out as quite the capable and respectful musician.

By all indicators, these Harvest Hoe Downs met, if not exceeded, expectations of the loyal attendees, many of whom went to all four nights. At $25 a ticket, it was a great deal.

On this Saturday night, the band, which also included drummer Tony Leone and pedal steel musician Jon Graboff, was able to at times coalesce and create a strong harmony.

The intimate setting allowed for a close study of the technique Lesh has used to shake the foundations of giant music venues from coast to coast and send holy vibrations into the starry night while lighting up listeners’ insides.

The show had its moments demanding some patience. But Lesh rewarded any lags with a standout “Bird Song” where he journeyed into the weird and sang carefully and wonderfully the touching lyrics penned by Robert Hunter in tribute of Janis Joplin. Not sure if Lesh did so Saturday night, but according to, Lesh now sings “All I know is something like a bird within him sang” in honor of Jerry Garcia, instead of the traditional “within her sang.”
Prior to “Bird Song,” Brian Lesh took the lead to the song he helped resurrect “Mountain Song,” with the moving refrain, “Gonna Make the Mountains Be My Home.”

Lesh was not shy in talking to the audience. He did his staple donor rap, encouraging people to become organ donors. And upon conclusion of the show he remarked how he saw familiar faces at the show while paying homage to “community.”

The four song encore was seamless and had the house dancing all around, beginning with the Mumford and Sons cover “Sigh No More,” followed by “Uncle John’s Band” and “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad.” “And We Bid You Goodnight,” the old English folk song, brought tears to one’s eyes as one could believe to be hearing the haunting Garcia voice as old as 1969 singing: “Tell ‘B’ for the beast at the ending of the wood/Well it eat all the children that would not be good” amid the a cappella from Lesh and company.

The show included solid versions of “China Doll” and a “Ramble on Rose,” with a strong set closure of the Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”


There are 6 comments associated with this post

Mark November 18, 2012, 16:34:19

Sounds like another average night of music at the Cross-roads. I guess one can take comfort that is was only $25 as opposed to $225 to hear our music butchered.

Markhater November 18, 2012, 20:58:27

Mark, I’m truly sorry for you that your mind is too narrow to comprehend the fact that your statement makes you sound like a whiny, snivelly little shit. I suppose you disdain all post Garcia Dead related music? Have fun not listening to good music, you stupid cuntwad piece of shit. Phil has the right to play with whomever he wants! Go fuck yourself, bitch.

TC November 19, 2012, 01:41:06

I agree with Markhater (except the misogynist language) i get so tired of idiots complaining about Phil and/or Bob having the audacity to play Jerry songs. Idiots. I bet dollars to dougnuts these are the same dead weight lame shits that complained when Jerry was alive. Mark you sound stupid as hell. U remind me of the negative dumb fucks that have been around probably since the begining; for sure since 82 when i landed, who love to say Phil/furthur . . . will stop touring “for sure this year” They say it year in and year out. You will be right eventually as it will end sometime and then you can celebrate Same shits who always said “jerry is on his last leg, hes messed up blah blah blah. PLEASE stay home Mark, we don’t need you at the shows. Me and mine will celebrate the joy of hearing Phil play the bass (man i will miss that sound when it’s gone) of Bob play his unique style of guitar, and just count ourselves BLESSED for any live note we get to hear from our boys. Me and my family and friends feel extremeley lucky and BLESSED to still be able to do what we love doing. What we have been doing most of our lives.
Must suck being blind Mark . . .

relax November 19, 2012, 19:45:38

Jerry was quite vocal, prior to his death, about his desire to have his music die with him. Don’t hate people, music is beautiful because it is diverse, has a flavor for everyone. Jerry heard bucket loads of criticism (still does if he’s listening) throughout his life and it mattered not. If you like it, tune in, if not, change the station. Who fuckin cares what anyone else thinks, my ears are mine alone.

woodstock950 November 22, 2012, 14:28:09

It’s not the same music as it was when Jerry was alive. Nor should it be. Phil’s ability to take the music “Furthur” no matter who is in his latest version of Phil & Friends, should be applauded. I was lucky enough to catch 2 shows at the Wellmont in NJ and 1 at Roseland in NYC when I was back east for my 45th high school reunion. What really struck me was that I appreciated Phil spreading the music to younger fans, many who were too young to hear the Grateful Dead. (My first show was in 1969).Rock on Phil!

JAM the 3rd November 29, 2012, 20:56:45


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