Freaks Ball XV, Brooklyn Bowl Jan 23 & 24, 2015


Photo by: Scott Harris

Set lists and taper links are below.

There has been much chatter about the incredulous 2015 Freaks Ball JRAD shows.  Two sold out shows at The Brooklyn Bowl.  Lines around the corner. Chicken, pizza and beer freely flowing. Here is my take on what went down this weekend in Brooklyn.

Metzger, Hamilton, Dreiwitz, Benevento and Russo are monsters in their own right.  Metzger and Hamilton were switching the Jerry part (playing and singing) all night, in a tight succession.  This is not FURTHUR, which (to me) seems about a half step slower than needed.  This is not Phil and Friends, which again, seems a bit slowed down for me.  This is JRAD, a bunch of hot musicians playing an upbeat, quick paced Grateful Dead. Their energy sounds reminiscent of the cassettes I used to listen to, of the early day GD shows.  JRAD’s pace blew me away the first time I saw them, years ago at another Freaks Ball.  This is also why I continue to see JRAD again.

Night One of The Freaks Ball was the first time the band played all those tunes, and it is safe to say that for the rest of the JRAD tour, these songs will be in the rotation.  I particularly loved the Iko Iko > Mississippi Half Step > Sugar Mag.  It reminded me of a GD show in the late 80s.

All of these songs were executed perfectly.  They certainly didn’t sound like it was a first time performance. However, the audio is up on – you can decide for yourself.


Photo by: Scott Harris

Second night, there seemed to be a shimmer in the room.  Electricity was bouncing before the band even hit the stage.  From the moment they hit the first note of Alligator, The Bowl was in blast off mode.  Jack-a-Roe was a super tune – need to go back to listen to that as well as Ophelia (what? Ophelia?)  Yes, Ophelia.

Second set though, I wanted a fancy Help>Slip>Terrapin (hey, one could wish right?)  Much to my surprise and chagrin, I got my Help>Slip.  Help was perfect, and then there was this riff, this jam, this hard squealing guitar before Slip that I still can’t get out of my brain.  It certainly wasn’t Slipknot, because they only did a few repetitions of Slip.  Metzger was crushing his guitar, and I have itched to hear it again since Saturday night.  This was one of the highlights for me.  Then Shakedown quite literally may have shaken down The Brooklyn Bowl. The crowd was loving it.

Then there was the closer, Mountain Dew.  The house was quiet and attentive on the musicians on the stage.  I was mesmerized, as were most of the crowd.  Hamilton on vocals was spot on.  Goosebumps type of spot on.

This weekend’s music bliss was palpable for everyone involved.  The Freaks, the audience, JRAD.  Wow.  Freaks Ball throws another amazing weekend.  Thank you Freaks.  Thank you Mr. Shapiro. Thank you Mr. Costello.  Thank you…goodnight.

Night One: Set List and Taper Link:

Taper link:

Set 1:
01. intro/crowd
02. Alabama Getaway
03. Alice D. Millionaire ->
04. Greatest Story Ever Told
05. Black Peter ->
06. Lost Sailor ->
07. Saint Of Circumstance
08. banter – band intros
09. Big Railroad Blues
10. outro/crowd

Set 2:
01. intro/crowd
02. Feel Like A Stranger
03. Stagger Lee ->
04. Iko Iko ->
05. Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo ->
06. Sugar Magnolia
07. Mission In The Rain
08. encore break/crowd
09. They Love Each Other

Night Two: Set List 

Set 1
01. Alligator (SM) >
02. Caution Jam >
03. Liz Reed Jam >
04. Jack A Roe # (TH) >
05. Uncle John’s Band >
06. Ophelia $ (SM)
07. Ramble On Rose (TH)
08. Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line ## (SM)>
09. Bertha (TH)

Set 2
01. Music Never Stopped (SM) >
02. Cumberland Blues & (A)
03. Help On The Way (TH) >
04. Slipknot!>
05. Shakedown Street (TH)
06. Truckin (SM) >
07. Space>
08. Morning Dew (TH)

09. Brown Eyed Women (TH)


Ed note:  Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015.  It seems/feels like I’ve been away from View Skewed for a long time.  In 2014,  I was writing for other outlets – The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY, as well as  I also had my first article published in Jambase and finally had my first review PRINTED in Relix Magazine for my coverage of the Bear Creek Arts & Music Festival.  Overall, it was a good year for writing, but probably not my best.  Perhaps in 2015, I can change this trend.  As always, thank you for reading my words.


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

Reposted from The Capitol Theatre

Written By: Meredith Berke

Photos By: Scott Harris


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.


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.

Bowlive V, Brooklyn Bowl 2014


Photo by: Dino Perrucci

Bowlive, Soulive’s two week residency, is ending it’s fifth year tonight at the infamous Brooklyn Bowl in Brooklyn, NY.  I have been lucky enough to be able to catch all five years, and incredibly witness how each year seemingly gets better over the last year.

This year’s special guests have ranged from Warren Haynes, John Scofield, Susan Tedeschi and New Orleans’ legends George Porter Jr. and  Jon Cleary, to lesser known 11 year old savant’s from Brendan “TAZ” Neidermeyer, Eddie Roberts, Joe Russo, DMC and Talib Kweli, Marco Benevento, Scott Metzger, Sonya Kitchell, and Nigel Hall.

Photo courtesy of: Alan Evans

Photo courtesy of: Alan Evans

The Shows: Admittedly, I have not been able to hit all the shows as I have in years past.  However, I can tell the nature of the Bowlive residency has mellowed into a well-known two weeks of throwdown funk, with surprise guests galore.  I use the word “mellowed” because the players (Neal Evans, keys; Eric Krasno, guitar; Alan Evans, drums) have seemingly settled into the pace of this particular run.  I am certainly not saying these shows are mellow, they are anything but mellow.  From the opening night two weeks ago, you can sense the excitement, the high energy building in the club.  The second night was frenzied, but no one seemed to realize that the show was going long to allow Warren Haynes to come from the Upper West Side where  the Allman’s were playing.  Those who either knew what was happening, or those who just hung out, were treated to a 4 song set that lasted well past 2am.

For me, my personal highlight were the ones I have attended.  First night (Thurs), vocalist and keyboardist Nigel Hall brought us back to the first few years of Bowlive where he was a nightly staple to the Soulive trio.

Third night (Sat), I was grateful to see George Porter Jr., bring his personal brand of funkiness to the stage, and the Soulive men tweak a little to the NOLA side of funk.  Add Eddie Roberts, from the New Mastersounds and The London Souls and this night was way up on the face melting scale. Here is a clip of the night before, when Warren Haynes stopped by:

Highlights: Night 4:  Jon Cleary & John Scofield John Scofield needs no introduction. He also has played with the Soulive trio for years, and the chemistry between the four men is palpable.  You can tell the Soulive men adore Scofield, and this bounces back from Sco to the Soulive guys.  The riffs that Krasno and Scofield throw at each other are mesmorizing.  I am not sure if I danced or just stood there with my mouth open.  I wish there was video to share with you.

John «Sco» Scofield  (Foto: Vidar Ruud, ANB)

John «Sco» Scofield (Foto: Vidar Ruud, ANB)

Highlights: Night 5: Susan Tedeschi, Joe Russo, John Cleary.  “Turn on Your Lovelight”


The Food:  I ate the addictively delicious Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken, but have to admit my new favorite is the Rock n Roll Fries.  I’ll let ya’ll in on a secret – it is fries and gravy with cheese on the bottom of the plate.  Fattening and delicious for sure.  With all the dancing I’ve done the past two weeks, I have no guilt at all.


Tonight is the last night to catch BOWLIVE V.  Will you be there?  Hope to see you.

Fri, Aug 27, 2010: Benevento/Russo Duo > Bobby Lee Rodgers Trio

photo by: Robyn Gould

Birthday Extravaganza, Day 2 Pre-Party: I spent all day cooking and getting the house ready for the first party I’ve had in the new place.  My BFF came over and was truly the party saver.  Without her we wouldn’t have cups or utensils to eat the lasagna or drink the drinks.  And the napkins.  (Thanks Dianne!, truly the party mule) The scene was intimate, about 5 or 6 people, which is actually a nice size for these NYC apartments.  I opened the champagne, and I started to get a bit giggly.  A sign that it was time to go down to The Highline Ballroom, to see Marco Benevento and Joe Russo. Travel arrangements made by Eric, thank you.

photo by: Robyn Gould

Benevento/Russo Duo: (download this show here) Never seeing the Duo, yet knowing both artists separately I was very, very excited to see these guys together.  They rarely play together these days, with Joe Russo touring with Furthur and others, and Marco Benevento playing with Garage a Trois, and others.  I guess sometimes the scheduling gets in the way.  I knew this was a special night. Especially when my 2 friends got miracled for the show with free tickets that just sort of flew into our hands that evening.  Birthday surprises had begun.

photo by: Robyn Gould

The Highline Ballroom was packed when the three of us walked inside.  We eventually made our way upstairs where a table was open and waiting for us.  The Birthday Bubble was closing in on us, and nothing was gonna hold us back from having an amazing time.  The two guys on stage didn’t disappoint either.

To describe what happened on the stage is, well… it was fantastic jazz.  Old school Baby Grand piano with a small amount of drums on the stage.  That was it.  Two instruments.  Two incredible players.  Talent oozing off the stage.  A twenty minute Blues for Allah, jazzy enough to the point where I couldn’t figure out it was a Grateful Dead song.  Truth be told, until I saw the set list I didn’t know any song that was being played.  It was that great kind of old jazz where you think about small jazz clubs in Chicago, people are smoking their cigarettes and drinking their whiskey and tapping their feet.  It was that vibe, and friends came over to me throughout the night to wish me birthday wishes and celebrate.  It was beautiful, indeed.

photo by: Robyn Gould

Bobby Lee Rodgers Trio, Sullivan Hall:

After laughing with and kissing and hugging goodbye to the crew uptown we departed to go down to the West Village to my other favorite place, Sully Hall, to see Bobby Lee Rodgers.  I knew of him from Wanee and was excited to hear some guitars and southern rock.  Who am I to say no to guitars and southern rock?  I saw more friends outside the venue, who knew it was my birthday and we were walked into Sullivan Hall celebratory style.  After a drink with my girl, another drink with my buddy, I have to admit, I was feeling no pain.

I went to my normal spot on the side of the stage and danced myself silly.  I’d say there were about 50 people in there, a late night show (starting at 11:30) and incredibly funky.  Bobby is truly a master on that guitar, drum beat keeping it all moving along… whoooo.  Fun fun fun stuff.  Bobby is not to be missed when he comes to your part of town. 

In the crowd was a familiar face, Eric Krasno from Soulive, and I said hi to him.  Usually I am rather shy when it comes to saying hello to certain musicians of a certain caliber, but this night I was in rare form.  I even asked him for a picture, which he graciously said of course.  Yep, rare form indeed, floating on an incredible music, surrounded by beautiful friends and having the time of my life.

.… the actual birthday starts the next day with a Midnight Ramble with Levon Helm… but Bobby Lee brought in the midnight hour with a bang!

Thanks to all who celebrated with me in the Birthday Bubble….musicians included!

Thurs, Aug 26, 2010: Birthday Extravaganza Day 1: Trombone Shorty

Trombone Shorty

My birthday extravaganza happened this past weekend, starting with NOLA funk down at the Water Taxi Beach with Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue w/ Jon Cleary. I danced in NOLA style and met new friends, and strangers alike.  It was the day 1 of the 4 day birthday celebration, and I had just begun to shed the week’s annoyances and focus in front of me.  With some burgers from the grill, friends mosey-ing around me, and some highly sweetened margaritas, I started it off on my dancin’ foot.

Thursday: Trombone Shorty, if you haven’t seen him, is a monster on that trombone.  Not to mention, a showman in his own right, he gets the crowd pumped, and blasts that trombone loudly, commanding attention.  Trombone Shorty not only plays trombone, but he plays trumpet, and there were already 2 saxophonists and a trumpetist up there.  It went down, it got funky, it was incredibly loud (thank goodness for my musician earplugs).  Highlights:  when the band all dropped their instruments and played drums/percussion for what it felt like 10 minutes.  I met Trombone Shorty (ok, I shook his hand), and I got a ride home from a good friend (thanks Peter!).  A perfect start to what became a perfect birthday.

Photo by: Robyn Gould

Jon Cleary

Friday:  Benevento/Russo Duo & Bobby Lee Rodgers, NYC.

Saturday:  Midnight Ramble w/ Levon Helm and special guests:  Assembly of Dust, Woodstock NY

Stay tuned for more.   This weekend is still being processed by my slow moving brain.

Furthur Night 1, MCU Park, Brooklyn, 6.26.10

Download this show from Archive here.

Pre-show: An hour long subway ride to Coney Island from the City.  Approximately 20 stops.  Yeah, that how it goes.  Got off right on Surf Ave, one block from the boardwalk and the beach.  Nathan’s welcomed me to Brooklyn.  The venue was a ways down where I passed a band playin’ Sugaree.  I love it when deadheads are in droves, wearin’ our colors proudly.  Shakedown Street was next to the venue, but there were others near by on the other side of the street.  It has been a long time since I’ve been on a Shakedown in the city.  (Radio City and MSG don’t have lots to play in, funny enough.)  Found my friends in one of the adjacent lots and started our way in to Shakedown because it was beginning to drizzle and I was worried that I’d be cold.  (A totally unwarranted fear, by the way, since it was hot, humid, sticky and smelly.)  Found a beautiful shawl from some very kind folks and I was on my way.  We went in, we were on the field and I stayed to John K’s side.

First Set: Set 1:  China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider, Black Throated Wind, Muly Guly, High Time, Loose Lucy > Throwing Stones > One More Saturday Night

First Set Highlights: Jeff Chimenti kills those keys.  Good lordy lordy lord.  Right out of the gate with China Cat he played for us to be at attention.  Jeff and John Kadlecik are a great duo, they banter off each other.  Bobby was wearing his glasses, and was sans manpris.  Phil looked so happy, so wonderfully happy.  I have to admit, I didn’t know Muly Guly, but I didn’t feel too bad since my crew didn’t know that song off the top of their head (like the first 3 notes like they always do).  Loose Lucy always a fun time but I had not really felt the feeling yet.  First set was somewhat slow and what I really remember is how they actually slow down the songs to end.  After they would do a small jam they would consciously slow it down, beat by beat, until there was no more music.  I don’t like that, I want a long jam.  I guess I’m picky.  However, Throwing Stones was a foot stompin’ good ole time into One More Saturday Night. Funny, I had forgotten it was Saturday.

Set Break: Bathroom run. Seriously.  It was hot and sticky, I had gotten slimed by some sweaty wook and I was still smiling.  The sun was setting and it felt like we were all waiting for the lights to go down.  Indeed, we were waiting for the evening sky.

Second Set:  Shakedown Street > Caution (Do Not Step On Tracks) > Jack Straw > Playing In The Band > Dark Star (v1) > St. Stephen > The Eleven > Dark Star(v2)> Lady with a Fan* > Terrapin Station* > At a Siding* > Terrapin Flyer*, Donor Rap, E: Brokedown Palace

Second Set Highlights: Caution was phenomenal.  John Kadlecik on guitar wails it… shredding had taken place.  I was psyched, it felt like the boys had just kicked it up a couple of notches.  Happy to say we were in for a different speed this second set.  I danced my little ass off in that jumpy hippie jig that comes out in places where Family comes together.  Jeff Chimenti on those keys made it sparkly, he raged out on those keys, holy smokes it was like fireworks on the stage.  We were on that train and we slid right into a Jack Straw. It’s fun to watch all the men in the crowd belt it, We can share the women, we can share the wine… Explosion jam at the end with Kadlecik going off, Chimenti off the hook with the keys.  Oh yeah.

Went off in search of a drink during Playing in the Band and I have to note that the beer situation on the field was RIDICULOUS at MCU.  The vendors walking through the crowd with $7.50 Bud Lights were far and few between.  You couldn’t find the food areas, but I found out later that they were in the 1st and 3rd dugouts. Found some new friends though, in the crowd.  Love that.

Dark Star.  St. Stephen.  The Eleven.  Dark Star into the whole Terrapin Suite. Oh my good lord really?  Seriously?  Um yeah.  Wow.  I have no notes.  Nope.  Danced my frikkin butt off.  Sang every song with my new stranger friends around me.  Smiles throughout the whole venue.  The place swayed together.  It was beautiful.  I could feel everyone shining.  Phil sang it nice this time – he extended some words in it, giving it another odd beat in the beautiful oddity that Dark Star is. 

St. Stephen brought the crowd back to their hippie jigs and John plays it solid.  Phil forgets a few lines and we all sing it for him, laughing.   During the jam, I felt the Fat Man around while John was playing.  There are times when John plucks that all I can think of is Jerry’s playing.  And the memories of the days on tour, the shows I’ve seen, the shows I don’t remember.  I smile and send love to the heavens.  I miss him too.

The Eleven came up and slapped me upside my head.  Woo boy, here we go.  Jammin front intro into Bobby belting This is the Season of… What Now? What Now???? 

Terrapin is What Now…  Kenny Brooks, from Ratdog, joins the stage with sax in hand.  So sweet!  He joins in on the end of Dark Star making it into a nice little jazz ditty before they went into Terrapin.  I couldn’t recognize the top of the song because it was so jazzy and musical firework-esque on the stage but I have to say that Terrapin with a sax sounds nice.  The sax with Bobby’s voice.  Really sweet.  The back up singers brought another level to the song, with the singers and the sax.  My one and only critique of this was that it wasn’t deep enough.  Maybe I wanted to hear Phil’s bass more, maybe Kenny’s sax made it lighter.  By deep I mean where it goes so low it hits you in the gut.  It was still beautiful, it was still an amazing treat to hear the whole Terrapin Suite.

Brokedown Palace was a nice cooler.  Couples arm in arm.  Man love all around me.  We were happy, we were sticky and we were psyched for tomorrow’s show.

Yep, sorry for the shaky photo, but you get the idea

We were treated to fireworks at the end of the show, about 11:30.  I thought it would be nice to forgo the fireworks for maybe another song.  But, alas… I had to deal with the fireworks.  Not so bad.  After the crowd I was ended up getting a ride into the city so no Shakedown Street for me.  I’d get more trinkets the next night, I justified it and I went home with Terrapin in my head, and slept like a baby.

The next night’s show blew my head off.  Stay tuned!

Furthur takeaways and Future shows

My notations from conversations I have had with other people on the latest Furthur shows.

  1. The jams are too short.
  2. They seem to rush from song to song.
  3. Phil Lesh sounds great.  First night Radio City I heard a great banter between he and John, but I’ve missed seeing the red, white and blue armband.  Did I miss it?
  4. John Kadlecik is spot on.
  5. Jeff Chimenti is twinkle fingers on those keys.
  6. Bobby (even with his man-pris) still can belt.
  7. Bobby’s beard reminds some people of a cat and it’s whiskers. Continue reading