OUT with the ROLLING RIDER
Set One: "This is all a dream we dreamed one afternoon long ago"
After establishing contact with Jerry Garcia at the recent Comes a Time festival, expectations reached a dizzying pinnacle as the denizens of Deadland descended upon the San Francisco Bay to gather at this most intimate of settings, in the very birthplace of our band. Scrambling to round out his ensemble, Phil drew from his hand the proverbial ace-in-the-hole in the form of good ol David Nelson.
GOIN DOWN THE ROAD FEELIN BAND felt apropos, as many of us traversed not only bridges but cities and states to be a part of this eccentric and rare event. ROCKY ROAD BLUES felt, like Nelson himself, comfy and warm as your old pup curled against your toes on a Sunday morning. From the first fledgling bars of a subtle and hypnotic PEGGY O, it was clear we were in a night stripped clean of any adornment or ornamentation.
One of the finest flatpickers out there, the founder of the New Riders and one of Jer and Hunters oldest pals, flanked by his right hand man Barry Sless, segued his own ANY NAKED EYE into renditions of the familiar FRIEND OF THE DEVIL and CUMBERLAND BLUES. The treat of the first set had to be OH THE WIND AND RAIN, as Nelson crooned: "The sound could melt a heart of stone, cryin' oh the dreadful wind and rain"
Phil blasted into a triumphant BOX OF RAIN that was like a cloudburst, drenching every inch of my hearts terrain. Lest we forget, Hunter recalled Phil "wanted a song to sing to his dying father and had composed a piece complete with every vocal nuance but the words. If ever a lyric 'wrote itself,' this did--as fast as the pen would pull."
The first set finale was the elliptic COSMIC CHARLEY, complete with Calico Kahlia, calliopes, and a paper canoe. Sensing some of us were reeling from the jetlag of epic pilgrimages made to the show, Phil sympathized "say youll come back when you can, whenever your airplane happens to land"
Set Two: "...And hey, look on the ground, theres blood spilling all around"
Set two began with a tip of the cap to Bob Dylan with evocative lyrics of THE WICKED MESSENGER: "And he was told but these few words which opened up his heart/ If ye cannot bring good news, then don't bring any." THE WHEEL unfolded like a brilliant lotus, then melted into what had to be the highlight of the evening, Nelsons THE GARDEN OF EDEN.
A commentary on everything important in todays world, this New Riders classic teaches us: "Hey look at the green, green tree/ it aint quite as green, green as it used to be; And hey, look at the cool clear water/ It aint quite as cool and clear as it ought to be/ We live in the Garden of Eden, yeah dont know why we want to tear the whole thing down."
KING SOLOMANS MARBLES featured some dazzling fingerwork by Jimmy Herring, and Rob Barracco summoned energy from some eternal font for the Beatles I AM THE WALRUS. Visibly impressed by his phriends superhuman efforts, Phil sounded the siren of the soul with the pulsing and heart hammering intro into THE OTHER ONE.
Escaping through the lily fields, Phil rested under the pillowy thatches of MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON. All the dancing kings and wives assembled in the hall were cradled in bliss, and then lifted up into the sense and color of TERRAPIN STATION. The train had momentarily put its brakes on and sounded an exultant whistle, but with Vegoose, the Fall Tour, and New Years luminous on the horizon, this seemed more like the beginning than the end of the journey.
Maybe it was the intimate confines, maybe it was the San Francisco sound, or maybe it was just the alchemy of some masterful players, but NOT FADE AWAY felt like the 68 Carousel Ballroom. The crowd could hardly find their hands to clap the outro, but unfazed, Phil and Nelson took the stage to at once honor our Papa and one of their oldest pals, this community, and the fountain not made by the hands of men with the golden field that is RIPPLE.
-If your cup is full, may it be again...
The Rolling Rider
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A Time - Tribute To Jerry Garcia - 9.24.05