During a toxic election year, that seems to have added more salty and sour discourse to the Community than the addition of Trey and Mayer combined, a weekend with Weir is exactly what we all needed. The Campfire Tour rolling through New York was like mental detox. Combine that with a Les Brers show earlier in the week and I completely realized that without music, this planet would have surely imploded by now. Certainly, I would have imploded by now at the least. The eyes and ears of Grateful Dead Land were turned once again towards The Capitol Theatre, the Psychedelic Music Mecca of the East Coast. Photo credit on the picture here goes to Peter Shapiro who deserves a Big Thank You from the community! That brother made sure everybody got to celebrate Bob’s Birthday at The Cap via a stream and at HIS expense. Yup, totally free for those that couldn’t be there. Thanks Peter, We appreciate that shit big time! I was fortunate enough to be there with tons of my closest friends that made the trip from all over the country. It was a night we will all cherish until we become dirt fertilizer.
The buzz in and around The Cap was highly charged as we gathered to celebrate 69 with Bob. Finally, we were gathered somewhere free from the turmoil of upcoming debates and elections and emails and pussy grabbing and gathered together in an environment whose most dominating characteristic was unconditional love. The environment an individual creates around themselves says a lot about the core values of that individual. The atmosphere at The Cap was free from the tumultuous vibrations that are currently bouncing around the planet and mirrored what has always been a hallmark of any Grateful Dead related experience. A gathering of The Faithful to take part and be Grateful!
The lights went down in The Cap and there were several efforts to sing a coherent Happy Birthday to Bob but they never really came together. Bob made mention of goofing the night before and made up for it by opening on Sunday Night with One More Saturday Night. Maybe he’ll play Samson and Delilah on Tuesday. After some brief words about the ancestral origins of the song, Peggy-O followed. Masterpiece caused an outbreak of smiling faces and I couldn’t help but reference Garcia’s backup vocals in the recesses of my mind. I attempted to extract them from the numerous files where they exist in my memories and place them appropriately in the song, about half a second slower than would be expected and belted out at full throttle. Bob ended his solo acoustic portion of the show with the title song of the new album, Blue Mountain. The rest of the band came out and added tremendous mood and landscape to the rest of the set that included One More River to Cross, Darkest Hour, Lay My Lily Down and Ghost Towns. A highlight of the night for me was Dark Hollow. As the song moved through its course I found myself innately at maximum smile. It was a smile that didn’t seem to be caused, nor couldn’t it be erased by my own effort. I boogied with PermaJoy face throughout and it continued through my favorite song of the new batch, Gonesville. I’m going gone!
At intermission, numerous people took a chance at breaking some news. They did so in order to say, “I told you so!” later, and gambled by saying John Mayer was there to play with Bob. I must have heard it a dozen times. Those people were wrong…
The second set kicked off with an old favorite, Mama Tried and we all continued where we left off about 35-40 minutes ago. West L.A. Fadeaway got a funky and promiscuous makeover and initially seemed like they may have gotten it just right. It started off sounding pretty sexy! I enjoyed the new look for the song but it moved along so slowly that I thought I might be Weir’s age by the time it was finished. Eyes of The World and Uncle John’s were well played and the sound was extremely unique. If I had to describe it to someone, it was like having a band play at somebody’s house that has a newborn baby. You want to play the tunes, but you don’t want to wake up the baby. It was like whispering a scream. Acoustically inspired stuff can be like that. That in and of itself provided an interesting landscape for songs to find new dimensions.
That ended when the Morning Dew began. I got the same chills I get every time I hear the opening notes of that tune. If Mayer was in attendance, now would be a great time to come out! But he wasn’t, so he didn’t… The Dew was fantastic and just as I mentioned before about playing in somebody’s house that has a baby sleeping, there’s a reason Bob thought he heard a baby cry. The Dew generated the kind of emotion and energy that no longer could be contained by any situation or circumstance and the song blasted through its measures without any regard for the sleeping newborn in the house. Woke that little fucker right the hell up! It was reverent and powerful and gave us all the opportunity to look within ourselves and examine our contents for any unneeded baggage. After extracting from US all that couldn’t assist us in moving forward, the song gave us the chance to move all of our spiritual debris into the trash heap and move forward with an abundance of replenished clarity, purpose, focus and vision. In order to move in that direction properly, Not Fade Away was the ideal song to get US marching the fresh and newly improved versions of ourselves forward. What a perfect way to close out the set! The cheers inside the Cap were thunderous and completely in unison. After the FTW Shows and almost a year with Dead & Company, the Community is finally on the same page with the NFA clap and chant that closes it out!
Weir came out for the encore and Peter Shapiro brought out a cowboy hat and a cake and tried once again to get all of US singing Happy Birthday at the same time. That shit never happened really but I’m sure Bob knew we were trying. An abundance of blue cowboy hats were passed into the crowd, another small touch that made a really cool difference! Weir sang Ki-Yi Bossie before slamming a chord to signal Brokedown. A fine end to a fabulous night!
For almost a year, Dead & Company provided US with an absolute orgy of sound and experience. Compared to that, Weir’s Campfire Tour is most definitely a few steps lower on the ladder of overall energy created. However, the unique sonic impression that Bob has created with this project brings about a different experience that is welcomed by my ears. The songs and the way they were delivered reached a different part of my soul. Perhaps just the other side of the same doors, if ya know what I mean. The music creates a very definite mood as the lyrics paint their pictures perfectly against the backdrop that has been created. When I look at my 5-year-old son, he wants to be a lot of things at different times. Some days a fisherman, some days a golfer, some days Spiderman. I hope whatever he does in the future, he’s able to have an art form that helps him to be all of those things in some way, shape or form. We’ve watched Bob throughout his career and he’s always hinted at wanting to be a cowboy. Cowboy tunes have always been part of his repertoire. Blue Mountain has given him a more complete chance to experience that while blessing all of US with his art form. Happy Birthday Bob!
See y’all soon!
Dead To The Core,
Dean Sottile (pronounced So Tilly)
@gd50th on Twitter
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