Friday, December 30, 2011

Tonight's Impromptu Setlist: 12/23/11, Fodi's Bar, Shaler, Pa.


Special thanks to my pals The Grifters for putting me on to do a quick set during their Christmas gig at Fodi's (a tiny place but a great crowd):

And It Stoned Me (V. Morrison)
Cocaine Blues (D. Van Ronk)
New Mexican Shuffle* >
Down in the Flood (Dylan)
It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry (Dylan)
Mystery Train (J. Parker)

*Original

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tonight's Setlist: 12/17/11, Table 22, Murrysville, Pa.


So the mysterious de-tuning low E string on my guitar was not a one-time phenomenon. It was a downright plague at moments during the first set tonight. Haven't listened to the recording yet, but I'm hoping that tuning was not much of an issue this evening. I certainly didn't take as many tuning breaks as usual, but that could be a bad sign instead of a good one.

Click here to stream/download courtesy of Archive.org.

Early set:
Friend of the Devil (Dead) >
Take the Money and Run (S. Miller)
You Can Keep It*
Amie (Pure Prairie League)
Superman (D. Nelson) >
Ramble On Rose (Dead)
Black Water (Doobie Bros.)
Magnolia (J.J. Cale) >
Mother's Meth-Head Blues* >
Midnight Special (H. Ledbetter) >
Dire Wolf (Dead)
Southwest Sky*
Blackbird# (P. McCartney)
Good Mornin' Lil Schoolgirl (J. Lee Williamson) >
The Other One (Dead) >
Deal (Dead) >
Run Rudolph Run (C. Berry)

Late set:
And It Stoned Me (V. Morrison)
Pig in a Pen (R. Skaggs) >
Big River (J. Cash) >
New Mexican Shuffle*
Astral Weeks (V. Morrison) >
Crazy Fingers (Dead) >
Rain Song No. 2*
Drag the Lake, Charlie (Drive-By Truckers)
Bird Song (Dead)
Feelin' Alright (S. Winwood) >
Alligator (R. McKernan) >
Me & My Uncle (Dead) >
Althea (Dead)
Throwing Stones (Dead)
Loser (Dead) >
Lo How a Rose E'er Blooming^ (Trad.) >
All Along the Watchtower (Dylan) >
A Minor Samba* >
Christmastime is Here^ (V. Guaraldi) >
I'll Take a Melody (A. Toussaint) >
Mighty High (J. Ligon)
Auld Lang Syne (R. Burns)

*Original
#Request
^Instrumental

Friday, December 9, 2011

'Why do you have so many concerts by the same band?'

Playing in the band...

I’ve spent a lot of time wondering why I like the Grateful Dead so much. Like many other Deadheads, I have a full shelf (and CD book) stocked with show after show, and I’ve often been asked, “Why do you have so many concerts by the same band?”

It’s a fair question.

In attempting to bring other folks into the fold, I’ve also had to answer a lot of queries about the scene at shows like Dark Star Orchestra, Furthur and the like. “Why is that person dancing like that? That’s not even a dance.” People who ask questions like this will probably never realize: that’s not the point.

In addition to listening to a group of world-class musicians perform, one of the other wonderful things about the Grateful Dead is the community they engendered. It is truly an all-accepting, always-kind nation of people who could care less how you’re dressed, where you work, or what your belief system is. But we’re all here now, and having a good time, and GAWDDAMN, THEY JUST RIPPED UP ONE HELLUVA ‘CHINA CAT,’ DIDN’T THEY, BOYS!?!?

What I truly enjoy more than anything is that everyone knows why they’re there. The band is there to put together a kick-ass night of music, to settle into a vibe that will define the evening. And the crowd is there to help them. It’s fairly rare that I go to a non-jamband show, and you do see big audience reactions there, but it’s usually for a certain song, or at the end of an obviously-rehearsed solo.

That’s not what we’re really about.

Sure, folks will get amped if they hear the beginning of their favorite Dead tune, but it’s really about where the song will go, about how far the band can push itself and still stay in the pocket. For me, that is truly what the jamband scene is about: seeing how high-flying and far-out you can push your sound and where you may be able to take it without even realizing.

The original Grateful Dead’s philosophy of never writing down a setlist is the full realization of this idea. And I will grant you, it could make for some very, very uneven shows. Then again, without that philosophy, you don’t get an utterly magical moment like the 12/29/77 show whose second set made a transition from “Playing in the Band” to “China Cat Sunflower,” which the band hadn’t even played since ’74.

And even with a band like Dark Star Orchestra, where the sets are planned out, the same philosophy still basically guides the band. But even better than that, there are occasions where the crowd guides the band. As I said earlier, people at regular concerts will give applause if they hear their song, or after a ripping solo. But crowds at jamband shows can have a tendency to push the band to go harder. I’ve been at plenty of Dark Star shows where they started what was originally a guitar solo… but then the rhythm player comes in with a slightly new idea, and the keyboards follow, and the crowd, which is already getting excited, can actually see this musical synergy happening right in front of them.

It’s a really amazing feeling to be bouncing along with 800 other people in unison and watch the band react accordingly. You see big sh*t-eating grins break out across the faces of old-school Deadheads, and you realize: this is what it’s about. It’s not about drugs or liberal hippie politics or interminable drum solos or ooey-gooey ganja balls. It’s about having a collective, inspiring musical experience with a few hundred kindred souls, doing your own thing and being completely accepted for it.

If you’re not tired and sore from dancing after a show, there’s a good chance you aren’t going to the right shows.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tonight's Setlist: 12/7/11, Sphinx Café & Hookah Lounge, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Difficulties with the UStream.tv feed? Yes.
Is it cool to be able to critique myself on video? Definitely.

May the gods curse the sh*tty audio cable I used for my guitar tonight. I couldn't find the regular cable I usually use, and had to go with the backup, which proved itself to be thoroughly unworthy. There was also another unfortunate instance of me blasting "Down in the Flood" with a thermonuclear warhead, this time in the form of an E string that mysteriously cranked itself down a half-step MIDSONG. I gave it a much more successful go mid-set.

Otherwise, good time, cool crowd, GREAT venue:

You Can Keep It*
Brown Eyed Women (Dead)
I Like It*
Mother's Meth-Head Blues* >
Dire Wolf (Dead)
Goin' to Acapulco (Dylan) >
She Wore a Wreath of Roses (Trad., orig. arr.)
New Mexican Shuffle*
Have Someone Play Dixie For Me (Dry Branch Fire Squad)
Down in the Flood (Dylan)
Row Jimmy (Dead) >
Quite a Night* >
Henry (New Riders of the Purple Sage) >
Wharf Rat (Dead) >
Me & My Uncle (Dead) >
Jam* >
Shakedown Street (Dead) >
Wharf Rat (Dead) >
Jam* >
Dark Star (Dead) >
Jam* >
Dark Star >
Jam* >
Mighty High (J. Ligon)

*Original

Friday, November 11, 2011

Come On Out!


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tonight's Setlist: 11/9/11, Up 'Til Dawn Benefit for St. Jude Children's Hospital, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pa.

"Whoa—what the hell is that thing?" said the '03 graduate.

Despite being back in the 'Burgh for more than a year now, this is only the second time I've been back on campus since graduating in 2003. It was for a good cause, though, the Up 'Til Dawn letter-writing benefit to help raise money for St. Jude Children's Hospital.

Click here to listen/download the set, courtesy of Archive.org:

Rain Song No. 3*
It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry (Dylan)
Althea (Dead)
New Mexican Shuffle*
Southwest Sky*
Rubber Bullets (10cc)
You Can Keep It*
Pig in a Pen (R. Skaggs)
The Captain* >
Spanish Ladies (Trad. English sea chantey) > The Captain
Galway Bay (F. Fahy)
Candyman (Dead)
Dire Wolf (Dead)
Shakedown Street (Dead)

*Original

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tonight's Setlist: 10/22/11, Table 22, Murrysville, Pa.

"Wish I was a headlight,
on a northbound train..."

Aside from completely destroying the lead-in to the chorus of "Down in the Flood," tonight's set went well.

Early set:
It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry (Dylan)
I Know You Rider (Dead)
Rain Song No. 3*
Sugar Mountain (N. Young) >
Peggy-O (Dead) >
Whiskey Bill (Trad., original arr.)
Althea (Dead)
You Can Keep It*
Glendale Train (New Riders of the Purple Sage)
New Coat of Paint (T. Waits)
New Mexican Shuffle*
The Captain*>
Spanish Ladies (Trad. Eng. sea chantey) >
The Captain* >
Push Those Clouds Away (Trad., original arr.)
Boys in the Barroom (R. Hunter) >
Lie In Our Graves (D. Matthews) >
Southwest Sky* >
Eyes of the World (Dead)

Late set:
Amie (Pure Prairie League)
I Like It*
Crazy Fingers (Dead) >
Uncle John's Band (Dead) >
Like a Rolling Stone Jam > Uncle John's Band >
China Doll (Dead) >
Black Peter (Dead) >
Blues for Allah (Dead) tease >
Pride of Cucamonga (Dead)
Quite a Night*
I Can't Be Satisfied (M. McKinley)
Mother's Meth-Head Blues* >
Dire Wolf (Dead)
Down in the Flood (Dylan)
Rosin the Bow (Trad., original arr.) >
Dark Star (Dead) >
The Other One (Dead) >
Dark Star >
Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodleloo (Dead)
Jimmy Olson's Blues (Spin Doctors)

Click here to listen/download, courtesy of Archive.org.

*Original

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tonight's Setlist: 10/12/11, Frankie & Georgie's 4Wood Grille, Pittsburgh, Pa.

'Many is the night we spent pickin' and singin'...'

Good gig. Small crowd, but that will happen when it's a Wednesday night. And it's raining. And you don't start 'til 9'o'clock. Regardless, good crowd, and that's what's important. Click here to listen/download, courtesy of Archive.org.

Even more importantly, I finally got a chance to work in one of my favorite little jams, the English sea chantey "Spanish Ladies," otherwise known as the song Quint sings in Jaws. I actually have the full version with all the verses, but last night was just the chorus:

Althea (Dead)
Rain Song No. 2* >
Whiskey Bill (Trad., original arr.)
Black Peter (Dead)
Mother's Meth-Head Blues*
Dire Wolf (Dead)
You Can Keep It*
Big River (J. Cash) >
New Mexican Shuffle*
Southwest Sky* >
Eyes of the World (Dead)
Row Jimmy (Dead)
Pride of Cucamonga (Dead) >
Valerie (J. Garcia) >
Pride of Cucamonga (Dead) >
The Captain* >
Spanish Ladies (chorus only) (Trad. English sea chanty) >
The Captain* >
Sign on the Window (Dylan)
Midnight Moonlight (P. Rowan)
Early Morning Rain (G. Lightfoot) >
I Don't Know You (New Riders of the Purple Sage) >
You're a Big Girl Now (Dylan) >
Crazy Fingers (Dead) >
'Like a Rolling Stone' Jam >
New Speedway Boogie (Dead) >
Jam* >
The Other One (Dead) >
Smokestack Lightning (Howlin' Wolf) >
New Speedway Boogie
I Can't Be Satisfied (M. McKinley)

*Original

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tonight's Setlist: 10/5/11, William E. Anderson Library, Penn Hills, Pa.

'Don't murder me...'

Tonight's set went well. Even got to add a couple extra tunes when one of the performers called in sick with the flu:

Rain Song No. 3*
Sign on the Window (Dylan)
Quite a Night (in Spain)*
I Can't Be Satisfied (M. McKinley)
Althea (Dead)
Dire Wolf (Dead)

*Original

Monday, September 26, 2011

Saturday's Setlist: Bruno's 30th Birthday Jam Session with The Grifters

The evening's tunes were affected, to one extent or another, by the lovely African spirit above, along with Bell's Two Hearted Ale and Pottsville's finest.

No planned setlist, just a perusal of our respective catalogs. The lineup is me and Pete Flynn on guitar, with Trish Imbrogno on bass (and various permutations thereof):

You Ain't Goin' Nowhere (Dylan)
Dark Hollow (C. White)
Dire Wolf (Dead)
In the Pines (B. Monroe)
Pig in a Pen (R. Skaggs)
Sweet Virginia (Stones)
Althea (Dead)
I Can't Be Satisfied (M. McKinley)
Postcards from Hell (Wood Bros.)
???
Deep River Blues (D. Watson)
Mother's Meth-Head Blues*
Dirty Business (New Riders of the Purple Sage)
Midnight Special (A. Lee)
Whiskey River (W. Nelson)
Nashville Blues (D. Watson)
Me & My Uncle (Dead)
High Time (Dead)
It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry (Dylan)
Nobody Knows the Way I Feel This Morning (L. Armstrong)
Deep Elem Blues (Dead)
New Speedway Boogie (Dead)
Y'all Come Back Saloon (Oak Ridge Boys)
Rosin the Bow (Trad., original arr.)
Copperhead Road (S. Earle)
In Color (J. Johnson)
Rocky Top (B. Bryant)
Black Peter (Dead)
Monkey & the Engineer (J. Fuller)
Dead Flowers (Stones)
Make Me a Pallet On Your Floor (J. Hurt)

(Note: There were actually a few more songs in the actual set, but the recorder ran out of memory at this point. In the immortal words of Sen. Clay Davis, D-West Baltimore, "Sheeeeeit.")

Check out The Grifters. They're the shit.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tonight's (Impromptu) Setlist: 9/14/11, Frankie & Georgie's 4Wood Grille, Pittsburgh, Pa.


Special thanks to Dave Tauberg and Pappy Weingrad from theCAUSE for asking me to do a quick, impromptu set during intermission tonight at Frankie & Georgie's 4Wood Grille in Squirrel Hill... even if its spontaneous nature meant the second verse of "New Speedway Boogie" had a line that, unfortunately, went:

"In the heat of the sun, a man died of cold/Sta—hm'k'dr'skn—uh—or staaand and wait..."

Oh well. Sometimes that will happen:

Deep Elem Blues*
Boys in the Barroom
New Speedway Boogie >
The Other One >
New Speedway Boogie

*David Tauberg on bass

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tonight's Setlist: Table 22, Murrysville, Pa., 8/6/11


Table 22 is a pretty nice place. Wish the first-set crowd would have stuck around for the second set; they were starting to feel it a little by the end. Maybe I'm just an optimist... listen and download for free, courtesy of Archive.org:

Early set:
Rain Song No. 3* >
Sugar Mountain (N. Young)
Dock of the Bay (O. Redding)
Pride of Cucamonga (Dead)
Two Angels*
Big River (J. Cash) >
New Mexican Shuffle*
Candyman (Dead)
Early Morning Rain (Gordon Lightfoot) >
Jam* >
Early Morning Rain
You Can Keep It*
Boys in the Barroom (R. Hunter) >
Box of Rain (Dead)
Breadbox (N. Buffalo)
Quite a Night*
Row Jimmy (Dead) >
Throwing Stones (Dead)

Late set:
Down in the Flood (Dylan)
Southwest Sky*
Mother's Meth-Head Blues*
The Wheel (Dead) >
Magnolia (J. Cale) >
Lady with a Fan (Dead) >
The Captain* >
New Speedway Boogie (Dead) >
Good Morning Lil' Schoolgirl (J. Lee Williamson) >
The Other One (Dead) >
New Speedway Boogie
Cocaine Blues (G. Davis)
Sign on the Window (Dylan) >
Weather Report Suite, Pt. 1 (Dead) >
On a Foggy Night (T. Waits)
Love Please Come Home (B. Monroe)
She Wore a Wreath of Roses (T. Bayly, original arr.) >
Over the Hills and Far Away (J. Page/R. Plant) >
Brown-Eyed Women (Dead) >
5:55 A.M.* >
Jam* >
China Doll (Dead) >
Eyes of the World (Dead)

*Original

Unfortunately, I ran about 15 minutes overtime and didn't get to do what I was hoping, a super-special Shark Week dedication: the full version of the English sea chanty that Quint sings in 'Jaws.' Oh well. It'll have to wait until next year.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Today's Setlist: Books & Beans, Leechburg, Pa., 7/30/11

Damn you, new strings,
with your stretching out and what not...

So, tuning issues aside, this morning's set went well. Tried out a bunch of songs for the first time, or the first time in a loooong time, in anticipation of using a few at next Saturday's set at Table 22 in Murrysville. Click here to listen and download, courtesy of Archive.org:

Early set:
Dirty Business (New Riders of the Purple Sage)
Big River (J. Cash) >
Down in the Flood (Dylan)
You Can Keep It*
Breadbox (N. Buffalo)
Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald (G. Lightfoot)
Rain Song No. 3
I Like It* >
Jam* >
Southwest Sky*
Drag the Lake, Charlie (Drive-By Truckers) >
Dark Star (Dead) >
Built to Last (Dead)

Late set:
Fast Train (S. Burke)
The Captain*
Feelin' Alright (S. Winwood)
Little Wing (Hendrix)
She Wore a Wreath of Roses (T. Bayly, original arr.)
Quite a Night*
Friend of the Devil (Dead)
Lawyers, Guns & Money (W. Zevon)
Boys in the Barroom (R. Hunter)
Ain't No More Cane (Trad.)
On a Foggy Night (T. Waits)
Sign on the Window (Dylan) >
St. Stephen (Dead)
Wild Billy's Circus Story (Springsteen)
Friends (Led Zeppelin)

*Original

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tonight's Setlist: Zogg's, Rehoboth Beach, Del., 7/15/11

A perfect place for Jay and me to get right
for the Dark Star Orchestra later that evening...


Early Set:
New Mexican Shuffle* >
Down in the Flood (Dylan)
Rain Song No. 2*
Ramble On Rose (Dead)
Quite a Night (in Spain)*
Peggy-O (Dead) >
Leaving Louisiana (Oak Ridge Boys) >
Standing on the Moon (Dead) >
Lady with a Fan (Dead) >
Breathe (Pink Floyd) >
Pride of Cucamonga (Dead)
Candyman (Dead) >
Jimmy Olsen's Blues (Spin Doctors) >
Throwing Stones (Dead)

Late Set (Jay on rhythm/vocals, me feebly attempting lead and backup vocals):
The Weight (The Band)
Burn One Down (B. Harper)
Last Dance with Mary Jane (T. Petty)
Friend of the Devil (Dead)
Stir It Up (B. Marley)
Wagon Wheel (Old Crow Medicine Show)
Old No. 7 (Devil Makes Three)
Dead Flowers (Stones)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Barkley vs. The Diesel: Place Your Bets!


The Obscure Music Monthly Sportsbook is open! Now taking all prop bets on Barkley vs. The Diesel if there's ever an NBA again.

Odds on:

• Barkley calling Shaq a 'big dummy' on the first show — 5:1
• Barkley and Shaq getting into a phony fistfight — 2:1
• Barkley and Shaq getting into a real fight — 7:1
• Barkley and Shaq simultaneously wearing womens' clothing and/or wigs — 1:1

The potential dynamic between these two is just about the only thing that could get me interested in the first two-thirds of the NBA's regular season.