Phil & Friends, Capitol Theatre, Port Chester NY, 5.31.14

Reposted from The Capitol Theatre

Written By: Meredith Berke

Photos By: Scott Harris

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This past Friday night, Phil and Friends played for an almost sold out crowd, aged young and old alike, for close to three hours. There were many friendly faces in the crowd, who greeted me with smiles as I walked into the theater. I began to feel that I had “come home” to a place filled with love and acceptance, as is common with a Phil show, and I felt the stressful week fall from my shoulders as I settled in.

Phil Lesh was joined by fellow Furthur band mates John Kadlicek, guitar and Joe Russo, drums. John Medeski and John Scofield rounded out the band with special guests Ross James and Nels Cline.

Ross James came out for the first set, with upbeat Grateful Dead songs such as a rousing New Speedway Boogie, and Turn on Your Love Light. Also played was Dylan’s A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall. It is worth noting that many people in the crowd commented that the first set felt like a typical second set. This set was high energy, filled with great jams, and Russo’s drum playing was off the hook.

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Nels Cline from Wilco, joined the band for second set. They opened with Cold Rain and Snow, accentuated a fun jam with Cline leading an almost rock-a-billy kind of groove. They went into a heavy jam before going into Eyes of the World. Phil sang lead, and Cline plucked the guitar soft and sweet, technically perfect.

Scofield, Kadlicek and Cline led us next to The Wheel, where they answered each other with their guitar licks, heightening the song for the crowd. It seemed that everyone was singing along. Kadlicek sang on the next song, So Many Roads, and the trio went into a sweet harmony with each other.

Overall, Phil played steady, Medeski was on the side of the stage surrounded by his keys, piping in from the organ, and Russo is just a monster behind those drums. Cline was the lead guitarist of the night, with Scofield and Kadlicek supporting, each of them throwing down some great jams throughout the night.

They ended the second set with Help> Slip> Franklin’s where Scofield let loose and Kadlicek sang on Help. They encored with Ripple, and Phil stayed classy to the end, by introducing all the the musicians by name, and saying “Thank you for joining us.” No Phil, thank you, and can’t wait for the next run, hosted by The Cap.

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Day 2 Equifunk 2013, Camp Equinunk, PA

Saturday Morning, Day 2

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I woke up hungry.  And worried that I was going to miss breakfast, or at least miss all the food.  And I needed coffee. Bad.  So I left my cabin mates and walked over the footbridge and wandered for the mess hall.  It was not where I thought it was – actually I had no idea where it was, but I needed coffee.  STAT.  There was a line for the food, but much to my welcome surprise there was food. The food was not going to run out.  The coffee was not running out.  They had bagels, eggs, bacon, waffles, coffee, tea, ice water and orange juice, fruit and cereal and milk.  It was a beautiful buffet.  I was happy. Sitting alone, eating my breakfast, finally having enough coffee in me to be able to focus on what was going on around me.  People looked about the way I felt.  I needed a shower.  Or a dip in the pool.  And I just needed more coffee.

I took a doggie bag back with me for my cabin-mates, and took the walk back to my camp, yes over the footbridge again, past the lake, through the woods, up the hill to my cabin.  My cabin-mates were waking and slowly getting motivated to go see Superhuman Happiness, a supergroup whose members are all key NYC players with a collective resume that stretches across a dizzying array of talent, including Antibalas, Phenomenal Handclap Band, TV on the Radio, Iron & Wine and Martha Wainwright among numerous others. They were formed in 2008 to seek joy and love through shared rhythm and melody, composed and improvised. Their mission is to pursue a happiness greater than that experienced by an individual mind.  I got my chair, and my towel and got my cocktails in order and went back through the woods, over the footbridge, through the Equinunk cabin quad, up the hill to the pool area where there was a stage playing music all day.

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photo by: Phrazz

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Day 1 Equifunk 2013: Camp Equinunk, PA

3442728_origPre-festival logistics

Oh the decisions!

After a long week, I had left the decision to leave after work on Friday or first thing on Saturday morning to a “game-time” decision.  I realized mid-day that I was going to trek up to the Poconos on Friday night – hoping to see some music, but really wanting to get settled in so I could have one full day of festie love, instead of getting up there on Saturday morning, rushing and getting settled, and then finding music just to pack up the next day.  I have to say, the decision to go on Friday night was the right one.

Driving close to 3 hours from NYC, I got up to the camp, and after a bit of confusion trying to find my bunk, passes and parking, I settled in, made our bed in our cabin, met my new cabin mates for the weekend, and tried to suss out the situation.

I pretty much just followed the music.  I took a walk past a gorgeous lake, where the full moon was bright and clear.  I walked over the footbridge into the other part of the camp – the Equinunk part of camp.  I passed the courtyard of cabins, found the beer, passed the pool and the slide, and walked up the hill to the “E-rena.”  (get it “E-rena” for “E-quifunk.”  Yes, very tongue-n-cheek.)

I had no paper to take notes.  I had no camera to take pictures.  I would have to experience and write that down.  Excuse me in advance if I forget anything.

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photo by: Dino Perrucci

Day 1 Highlights: Friday

I heard JJ Grey & Mofro while walking to the E-rena.  I got to see The New Mastersounds KILL IT on the stage on Friday night.  The scene, I have to say, was totally chill.  Crowd age ranged from mid-twenties to mid-fifties, I’d guess.  People were friendly and nice, with an odd frat-boy overtone (due to free beer, I’d say), but none of the “frat boys” were rude, obnoxious or mean.  They were having just a great time with their buddies, listening to great music just like the rest of the hippies/festival freaks. Continue reading

Galactic – Night 1 of 4, Brooklyn Bowl

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Galactic stopped by Brooklyn NY for a four night run at the Brooklyn Bowl earlier this month.  Each night was sold out.  Each night was better than the night before.  Each night there were special guests including Corey Glover (Living Colour), David Shaw (The Revivalists), High & Mighty Brass Band,  Jon Gutwillig ( The Disco Biscuits), Kalmia Traver (of Rubblebucket), and The Mike Dillon Band.

To say this was a New Orleans party up north in NYC would be an understatement.  Every time I have seen Galactic, they always bring down the house and this run was no exception.  With eighteen years behind them, they have become a powerhouse from NOLA like no other.  Their power is unmistakenable, their groove is funk in your face, and their songs run from lyrical to twenty minute jams.  Galactic is made up of such talent as: Ben Ellman, harps and horns; Robert Mercurio, bass; Stanton Moore, drums and percussion; Jeff Raines, guitar; Rich Vogel, keyboards. Continue reading

REPOST: Deep Banana Blackout, Brooklyn Bowl 7/5 & 7/6

Reposted from Jambands.com

photo by: Allison Murphy

photo by: Allison Murphy

While most of the NYC crowd was out of town on this steamy 4th of July weekend, at BBQ’s with the family, or spending three nights atSPAC with Phish, there was another type of party going on at The Brooklyn Bowl.

Twenty years ago, a band called Tongue–n-Groove played in and around Hartford CT and Port Chester NY. A singer by the name of Andrew Gromiller was the front man, and vocalist Jen Durkin was the female lead. This band played funk and soul staples, namely James Brown, Parliament-Funkadelic, Sly and the Family Stone, Lyn Collins and Maceo Parker, just to name a few. At the time, Gromiller’s singing with Durkin’s signature sound was akin to a James Brown/Aretha throwdown. Eric Kalb, drums, schooled us on the relentless “One” beat, Benji LeFerve’s bass line was steady and strong, and Rob Somerville’s saxophone and Rob Volo’s trombone tickled the space in between the beats with their horns.

Somewhere along the way Gromiller decided to go on the open road, as some creative souls do, to follow on his journey away from T&G. He went out west, and the band was left to meet another band of brethren, Long Island musicians James “Fuzz” Sangiovanni, Cyrus Madan, and Jen’s brother Johnny Durkin.

This was the beginning of Deep Banana Blackout.

Twenty years later, most of the members of the original Tongue-n-Groove were on the stage of The Brooklyn Bowl, treating the crowd to two sweltering shows, while celebrating Andrew Gromiller’s newest CD, Organic Bananas, an obvious nod to Deep Banana Blackout.

Friday night, Deep Banana Blackout was beginning to get their groove on. Continue reading

Gathering of the Vibes 2013 – Highlights – Friday/Saturday

This year started with me having my first ten day vacation since I don’t know when, and we began at The Vibes.  After the usual “get here, find the tickets there, park here, walk there, grab the cooler, don’t forget the tapestry, find some ice, text your friends, get to the stage, find your place” shenanigans, we finally settled in.   We got in on Friday, and saw John Scofield’s Überjam at the smaller Green Vibes stage.  We also said hello to about a gazillion friends.  This festival is held in the beautiful Seaside Park, Bridgeport CT – and since CT is my hometown state, this truly was a gathering of friends and family far and wide.  But, I digress.

photo by: Dino Perrucci

photo by: Dino Perrucci

Scofield is one of my favorites, and he jammed with Andy Hess, John Medeski, drummer Tony Mason, and Avi Bortnick. This was a heavy jam, filled with that roundabout guitar virtuosity that Sco is known for.  Scofield just released a new album, Scofield’s Überjam Deux I was thrilled to be standing infront of Sco, with the water behind me on a gorgeous Friday afternoon.  This was a beautiful entry into The Vibes.

photo by: Dino Perrucci

photo by: Dino Perrucci

Another highlight was Tedeschi Trucks Band.  TTB is touring to promote their latest album to be released on August 20 – Made Up Mind – and we were treated to a few new songs mixed in with their usual southern style bluesy Janis Joplin, slide guitar heaven. I realized that today I was being treated to two of my all time favorite guitar players, Scofield and Trucks, combined with Saturday’s Warren Haynes (Gov’t Mule) and Steve Kimock which could easily put me in guitar hero overload.  This is what Vibes is for.

It is a curious thing when one of the hottest sets are so under the radar, you incredulously look around you to notice that there is not enough people around you to witness what is happening on the stage in front of you.  This was Steve Kimock/Bernie Worrell’s set.  It was a hot day, no doubt about it, and there is hardly any shade, but it didn’t matter.   Continue reading

Dragon Smoke – Monday, June 24, Brooklyn Bowl

She’d say, “Baby Grandma understands,
That you really loved that man,
Put yourself in Jesus’ hands.”
–Grandma’s Hands

photo by: Dino Perrucci

photo by: Dino Perrucci

It was a random muggy Monday evening in Brooklyn this night when four of New Orleans hottest musicians graced the stage at The Bowl to a grateful crowd.

I knew the night was going to be a good one, when I walked in and heard Billy Iuso’s band play (one of my personal favorites) Red Hot Mama, into the Dead’s The Other One. Hook Herrara joined the band for some serious harmonica ripping against Iuso’s shredding guitar.  The audience slowly started to stream in from the heat outside.  A nice crowd was settling in.

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