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)