Don’t Want You No More > Not My Cross to Bear; Statesboro Blues; Come & Go Blues; Blue Sky; Every Hungry Woman; Gambler’s Roll; Dusk Till Dawn (Bill Evans); Revival
Needle and the Damage Done; Who’s Been Talking (Scott Sharrard, guitar); Trouble No More (Berry Oakley Jr, bass); Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More; Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody’s Home (Jeff Golub, guitar); Dreams (Evans); 1983 > Mountain Jam > 1983 > Mountain Jam. encore: One Way Out (Oakley, Sharrard, Golub; Susan Tedeschi timbales)
Tonight they came out aiming to please, and please they did. Start to finish, a big barrel of fun and probably the best (by which I mean, most enjoyable for me) show of the 6 I’ve seen this run.
The opening “Don’t Want You No More” and “Not my Cross to Bear” segue is immediately fresh and present, they hit all the marks and are immediately in the show with both feet. Gregg growls out the vocals on “Not My Cross,” Derek plays sugary loops. Then Gregg counts in “Statesboro Blues,” Derek slides it up as Gregg drives the shimmy.
And a word about Gregg this run. The consensus is his singing is great. But what’s really impressing me is his playing. He’s taking more solos and driving the music forward. “Come and Go Blues” is breezy and nice, and then in his “first vocal of the night” slot Warren offers up “Blue Sky.” Derek runs once through his solo enunciating all the notes, then once more through, playing sliding, blurring notes. Then one more run at it from sort of underneath. Then Warren works hard not to play the notes your ears expect, so that when he finally does give in and play them, it is a little bit euphoric. This is now one seriously happy crowd. The band can now do whatever they want… but they continue in this general vein, doing whatever YOU want.
“Blue Sky” sets the stage perfectly for a sojourn into the dark via “Every Hungry Woman.” Then a deliciously pungent “Gambler’s Roll,” slow, bluesy. Gregg plays a churchy solo, from which Derek emerges with big, fat peeled notes (my friend Bill: “That segue from Gregg’s to Derek’s solo was great.”) Then Warren smokes it.
Sax man Bill Evans comes on to assist on “Dusk Till Dawn.” Warren’s entrance to the song is ringing and clear. Evans goes all “House of the Rising Sun” on a solo, then he and Warren square off, then Derek blows a beautiful bop solo on guitar. Derek, Warren and Evans close out drawn together, creating a 3-man triangle of fire. On the set-closing “Revival,” a punchy take, Warren plays some full yet tiny runs, and wouldn’t you know it, “love is everywhere.”
Gregg, Derek and Warren come on to open the second set with an absolutely exquisite read on Neil Young’s “Needle and the Damage Done.” Then Scott Sharrard joins on guitar for an extremely welcome “Who’s Been Talkin’.” The drums lay down some percolation to create the mood, then Warren eases in the guitar players, and the three of them dance around the licks of the song, until finally Warren falls into the Santana-ish lines that bring in the song, and it’s all so subtle that I’m thinking half the crowd doesn’t even know what song it is yet. As is often the case, the real action begins on the outro, as the three guitars trade blue, ethereal licks from a dreamy space, until the song gently disappears down the drain.
Berry Oakley Jr. joins on bass for a read of “Trouble No More” on which he is thumping in his father’s footsteps (Warren notes that toward the end of the run they tend to bring out more and more friends and family.) Then Derek offers one of his classic narrative solos on “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More;” he totally owns this song. Warren offers up a cool breeze of a solo in Derek’s wake. Guitarist Jeff Golub joins next for “Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody’s Home,” playing skronky, skunky Strat lines that pierce through the gumbo.
Evans comes on for “Dreams”– see, I told you they were aiming to please– Derek takes his time, building, riding a shimmery wave. Evans rains bop down on the shimmer, Warren’s lines stretch and vibrate. Then the new set piece, the “1983/Mountain Jam” medley. The band trips through “1983,” and the guitars play dreamy, longing psychedelic lines as Butch tries to butt in with the timpani that announces “Mountain Jam,” looking for an opening, but the guitars are in no hurry to let him in. Finally he pokes through, and Derek’s dreamy lines becomes the melody opening to the “Jam.” Derek wails. Warren wails. Then back into the briny deep of “1983.” Then back into “Mountain Jam.” Derek hits the spot a good long time on the triumphant march section, then he pulls up, rings out. The guitars put it all to bed… then Butch pounds out the heralding beat again, and back into the theme and a glorious close.
Golub, Sharrard and Oakley are back out for the “One Way Out” encore, which goes round and round and round; even Susan Tedeschi joins in on the fun, sitting with Marc on his kit.
Super fun show, a lot of happy faces walking out into the stinging cold night. And they’ve set the bar pretty high for the rest of closing weekend.