Category Archives: Phil and Friends


After a break from the scene and writing, that included a week of Senoircize water aerobics in Sarasota with Bill Walton, Agnes and Pearl, it was great to be at The Cap Center last night for the finest of Friends that Phil has. For anyone that missed the coverage of my vacation, it was definitely highlighted by everyone’s favorite Deadhead, Bill Walton, joining myself and some golden oldies training for Summer Tour in a pool on Lido Beach.


There’s no better way to get immersed in the scene again than spending a night at the Cap with The Q. I walked into the Cap about the same time the band walked onto the stage and the vibration inside the building could be felt for miles outside of it. If you haven’t been to The Cap, you should really get there at some point. The Staff is friendly and helpful and the place is covered in all things Dead. Shapiro has done a great job revitalizing a historic venue and preserving its overall character while infusing the place with the latest and greatest audio and visual accoutrements available. House sound and lighting is fantastic as is the overall emotional volume of the environment. Not only has The Cap been revitalized but its presence has revitalized Port Chester since it reopened as a live music venue in 2012.

I got a text from Peter to see Liz at The Box Office. We were heading to the Shap Cave beneath the Cap. In a scene right out of Spinal Tap, Liz and I walked up and down stairways, knocked on several different doors and continued walking in circles trying to find the hidden lair. After a couple of trips we ultimately made our way to the bunker that sits somewhere beneath the earth and below the stage equipped with a big ass fish tank and everything else you’d expect from the Ultimate Man Cave. The night kicked off with plenty of laughs and had all the makings for a great time with some of our favorite musicians.

On with the show! Phil’s 54th show at The Cap started just like the prior 53 with a jam that kinda beats the dust out of the carpet and helps us older folks in the crowd limber up a little. There’s always the handful of folks that are so high they do rigorous and unorthodox stretching routines for 30 minutes prior to the lights going out, but most of us need a few minutes to get a little loose. Like the other 53 the jam went essentially nowhere but Mr. Fantasy arose from it. From that point forward it was a night that was dominated by Warren. Personally, I think Warren is the most soulful artist of his generation. His voice is rich and seems to come from a well that’s much deeper than most. He’s able to sit back in a tune and never gets caught too far behind it and sure as hell wont get too far out in front of it. That’s one of my favorite qualities that Garcia completely owned and that Warren delivers naturally as well. I can’t understand for the life of me why anybody that loves music and artistry wouldn’t love Warren. His talent is like few that came out of his generation. The minute he hits a note or sings a single word there’s no doubt it’s Warren. I would encourage everybody to get to the Jerry Symphonic this Summer. I assure you that Warren as well as the entire experience will FAR exceed your expectations. It certainly did mine. See y’all in Central Park on the 8th! One thing about Warren, he doesn’t smile much up there… Looks like he’s fixin to kick an ass most of the time.

It made me happy to see Phil looking tremendous. Everyone is aware of his recent challenges, but he definitely seems to be strong, healthy and exuded joy. I hope I can be that cool at 76. There’s something about most musicians that just keep them a little cooler than everybody else regardless of their years. The biggest gift one can have in life is to spend it expressing your gifts while being fortunate enough to make an incredible living doing so. Ahhhhh if we could all be Rock Stars…

Chinacat was up next and Chinacat without Rider is like Help->Slipknot without Franklin’s to me. They’re always better together than not. The only exception I can think of was Help->Slip->Fire in Boston ’91. I always wished they would’ve done Scarlet->Franklin’s the last night in Boston. Incredible to be talking about all that 25 years later. Regardless, the music rolled on and sounded tight and inspired.

Passenger was one my favorite unexpected tunes at Soldier Field and I Loved hearing it last night. Cosmic Charlie is a long time favorite and was among the highlights of the night for me. Songs with lyrics like “Dum de dum de do da lee do” and “Calliope wail like a seaside zoo” are destined for greatness. The first set succeeded in providing an ideal environment for intermission. The energy was high and filled with hope, love and great expectations of what was to come.

Any time Mason’s Children opens up a set, people’s Happy Meters are gonna be in the red zone. We were all there for sure. Mountains of The Moon gave everybody a chance to catch their breath. That’s all I’m gonna say about that. There was a Mountain Jam that found its way in there at some point that was great. Well worth a listen. Night of 1000 Stars got us all moving again and The Other One began the musical haul to an outstanding finish. I absolutely love Jimmy Herring and he shredded through the Other One in ferocious fashion. It was one of those moments that my mind became so completely filled with sound and notes that there was almost no room left for any more unless it was able to expand. Those are the moments that our minds truly begin to expand accordingly.

Rob Barraco has to be the happiest musician I’ve ever seen. I’ve been watching him since ’89 or ’90 in different Dead related bands and that brother just brings happiness with him every single night. Truly an exceptional quality that matches his talent and contributions. Molo was beating the shit out of his kit and started getting that menacing look about him. He can go full alien sometimes. I’ve actually seen the shape of his head change while he’s playing and I don’t use drugs. That shit really happens. He can go full alien cranium when he gets deep into it.

The Other One jam was full of Dark Star sounds and I imagine those were like labor pains that will be satisfied by the birth of the Dark Star tonight. Cryptical is always a great way to exit The Other One. Immediately following Cryptical, Warren fired the first 2 notes of St Stephen. It seemed like nobody else was ready for take off. After a pause and some discussion among the band, St Stephen eventually took flight. For those that may have wondered why people in the boxes are never really dancing, there’s a “No standing” rule in them. When one sees a rule like that, one has to wonder how many people ended up falling over the low rail before the law was put into place. It’s a lot like those street signs in the mountains that warn you of a sharp turn. You have to wonder what prompted the posting of that sign. Anyway, I danced as hard as a person can dance while sitting. The wave continued to build as we all rose on the incredible surge that continued to build upon itself. Neurons in the brain started going off in groups of a thousand moment by moment. The Stephen was great and fell comfortably into a raging Midnight Hour led by Warren to top off the second set.

When the world’s most grateful organ recipient came out to honor Cody and do the donor rap, he received one of the most gratitude filled ovations I’ve heard. Having him with us is more and more precious as time moves on. Every night his bass passes through our souls is one show closer to the last one we’ll see. That could be said even of the first Warlocks show but as we all see the years piling up, the meaning inherent in each and very show gets deeper and deeper. I’m endlessly blessed to have been born in a time and place where I was able to participate in the last 30+ years of the greatest musical journey that history will ever hold. I believe we still have many more to come but I sincerely treasure every single minute that’s spent in a room with Bob, Bill, Mickey and Phil more now than ever. As I contemplated those thoughts, The Days Between encore made perfect sense. The journey… The climb… The Rise… The Fall… The Rebirth… The Reflection… Like most of what Hunter has written, its meaning becomes increasingly more profound daily.

For me, The Q is by far my favorite collaboration that Phil has ever put together. Those guys when playing together don’t require Phil to orchestrate changes in direction or in parts of a song. They all read each other innately and, without looking at one another, continue moving down the path. The connection doesn’t require anybody directing traffic as all parts come together as expected regardless of the route that’s taken to get there. When the Q is firing on all cylinders it’s one of the finer experiences available within the realm of GD offshoots. I hope there’s more of them in the future! See y’all on The Golden Road!

Love You Forever!!!

Dead To The Core,
Dean Sottile (pronounced So Tilly)

@gd50th on Twitter
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Fresh off the highs of Lockn’, the preinstalled Health app on my phone informed me for the 5th time in a week that I had exceeded the fitness goals given to me by some programmer in Japan. Apparently I have doubled the number of steps that some unknown entity feels I should walk in a day and was awarded a gold coin on my phone that I’m certain is good for absolutely nothing, much like me after 5 of the last 7 days swimming in the Psychedelic Soup. Surprisingly enough, with all the health related goals I was apparently crushing, I returned from Lockn’ with a Wook Flu the size of Chewbacca. Voice is totally shot, the whole nine yards. After getting a text about some comp seats for the Central Park Show, I decided to go even though, as a working stiff, I knew I’d only make the second set. Nothing like a little hair of the dog that bit ya to get the immune system jump started. I finished up at the office and headed into The Big Apple to see Phil for the third time in the past week. I’ve never been to Central Park’s Summer Stage, mostly due to the early start times, but here we go again…

It was a beautiful day and a gorgeous, warm Summer night under the stars in Central Park. We picked up our tix and got to the stage just as the band came out. Phil’s pack of wolves included Chris Robinson, Neal Casal, Eric Krasnow, Adam MacDougall and Tony Leone. The one great thing about living in the NYC area is that bands always seem to push a little harder when they’re here. The Metropolitan area may not be one of the kindest places you can play but WE show up BIG every night. The energy is always fever pitched and the musicians always deliver the goods. They opened the second set with He’s Gone which isn’t the quickest route to Valhalla but it did possess a tasty tempo and eased us all into the groove. Once it was done all melting and falling apart, Next Time You See Me emerged and upped the ante as we all began lifting off to that place you go when everything is just right. The first notes of St. Stephen always create a visceral response that goes way past our ears. It’s the musical equivalent of walking through the gates at Disney World. The impending magic grabs you before you’ve even experienced it. The tempo was fast all night, yet another thing that New York City tends to do to you. I can’t help but think to myself when I hear this stuff, “Why the fuck didn’t they play this Garcia’s last decade?” Getting on the bus in 85, I missed hearing a bunch of stuff with Garcia that I still think about to this day.

Up next was Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds and I’ll never forget the night The Dead busted that out. March 17, 1993 at the Capital Centre in Landover. I was a twisted pile of a mess that tour. I started looking like the last chapter of a book called, “What’s The Use?” Heavy into the bad stuff. The entire scene was going down the drain but there were a few last glimpses of glory that were left. This was definitely a BIG one for me. I can remember how happily we all shook our bones as Jerry’s voice came over us like warm syrup singing such an epic tune. The first lick that Garcia shot off during the chorus is still etched in my brain forever. Regardless of what anyone says, the best version of any bustout is the night they busted it out! Even when it wasn’t… Central Park bloomed into an Electric Wonderland as L.S.D. kicked into high gear and all 5,000 folks couldn’t help but sing along with each chorus(QUIETLY PLEASE)!

The opening notes of Lovelight kept all the energy heading in the proper direction and Chris Robinson was having a night and a half. I thought for a minute he might get to breakin out some of those old dance moves I talked about yesterday. He was animated and right in the pocket all night long. Sugaree helped us all continue to shake it and was always among my favorite Garcia tunes. There’s so many ways to approach that groove from a perspective of getting your boogie on! I rocked it double time, I rocked it half time, we rocked it THE WHOLE DAMN TIME!

The feelings associated with the memories of seeing Garcia dropping the first notes of tunes you traveled thousands of miles and saw hundreds of shows hoping to hear will never go away. Having seen hundreds of shows by the time I got to the New Year’s run in 1990, 12/27 is another show I’ll never forget. Blazing Hot Scarlet-> Fire, great Estimated that dribbled down into complete jelly at its finish when the first notes of Comes a Time stepped forward. I remember that feeling as well as I remember the birth of my 4 year old and it gave me the same sense of euphoria. The only difference is that Comes a Time didn’t continue to destroy all my shit and deprive me of sleep for the 4 years that followed… While we’re talking about babies, The Phil and Friends family seems to either be making a bunch of ’em or renting them. There’s always a beautiful blonde baby on stage and it seems like it has been that way for a while now. Strange to think when I got on the bus those babies were Phil and Jill’s kids and now they’re grand babies. Time is flying… The older I get the quicker it goes. Maybe its not going so fast and there’s not as many babies as I think… Anyway, Comes a Time was great and a wonderful time to grab the one you love and just live through the song together.

It seems like The Franklin’s that Phil and Friends have been playing picked up a Crystal Meth addiction. Franklin’s came burning outta Comes a Time like a rabbit that was on fire. I’m not sure there’s a better tune to dance to than Franklin’s. That one just brings out the very best in US and last night was no exception. We were all stamping it out like kids at an ant hill! Sweat flying, smiles galore!!! That song is a total sprinkler of Joy and we were all getting soaked by it! What a set! Great sound, great venue, great tunes! What the hell else could you want out of it all? How about a double encore bitches! Mr. Charlie rekindled the flame left behind by Franklin’s and the joint was back to a blazing inferno in seconds! Tons of Chuba-chuba and Wooley-booley plenty of
“Well you take a silver dollar, Take a silver dime, Mix em both together in some alligator wine!” I don’t know exactly what the fuck Alligator wine is but that tune makes me sing about it like it’s my favorite thing on earth! LOVE Mr. Charlie! Then the rare double encore in Dead Land as the hook in U.S. Blues rocks us deep to our core as we acknowledge, “Summertime done, come and gone, my, oh, my!!!” The jubilation experienced by the tune mixed with the realization that the Summer of 2015 has brought us more to be Grateful for musically than we’ve had in a long, long time. I know The Summer of 2015 will be remembered a lot like The Summer of ’89 for me. The Summer of ’89 was my own personal Summer Of Love. The year I broke through and conquered the Acid tests, ran the tables at every venue I entered without missing a show and became so much of the human being that I am today. There’s a lot that’s changed since then… My cars don’t run out of gas anymore but my body sure does… Regardless, this Summer has done more to infuse new life into me and to reawaken old dreams than any I’ve experienced in a long time. I’ve reconnected with my tribe as opposed to just dashing in and out of shows like I’ve done for the past couple of decades. A part of me that I thought had severely aged or possibly died has come back to life. The Summer of 2015 has been a Summer I’ll cherish forever… Se y’all down the road!

Love You Long Time!

Dead To The Core,

Dean Sottile (pronounced So Tilly)
Twitter @gd50th