Saturday, April 30, 2011

Tonight's Setlist: Books & Beans, Leechburg, Pa., 4/28/11

What's happening in this picture? Well, chances are good
that I'm throwing something at Bob and Joe that we
didn't do in rehearsal. I did that a lot.

For the first time, I was able to get a recent performance recorded. It's an audience recording with a Sony handheld recorder, but it turned out better than I was expecting. Check it out and download it for free at

Set I (Joe on percussion):

Hearts & Bones (P.Simon)
Crazy Fingers (Dead)
You Can Keep It*
Althea (Dead)
Fast Train (S. Burke) >
Breadbox (N. Buffalo) >
Fast Train
New Speedway Boogie (Dead) >
The Other One (Dead) >
Smokestack Lightning (H. Wolf) >
New Speedway Boogie
Eyes of the World# (Dead) >
Trio Drum Jam#

Set II (Joe on keys):

New Mexican Shuffle*
I'll Take a Melody (A. Toussaint)
Scarlet Begonias (Dead)
Big RxR Blues (N. Lewis)
All Along the Watchtower (Dylan)
Quite a Night (in Spain)*
Rain Song No. 3*
Row Jimmy (Dead)
Throwing Stones (Dead)
Feelin' Alright (S. Winwood)

#Features a random conversation from a couple people who wandered too close to the handheld

The set features Joe Sheehan on percussion (Set I) and keys (Set II) and Bob DiCola on percussion. This was the first time we've played together, outside of a few hours of rehearsal two weeks ago.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

An Interesting Social Experiment

...but not really.

I'm a pretty even-keeled guy. I don't get angry very often. But the one place where I find myself getting angry the most is in the car. George Carlin once said about driving, "Have you ever noticed that anyone going slower than you on the road is 'an idiot'? And anyone driving faster than you makes you say, 'WHOOOA, LOOK AT THAT MANIAC!'" That comes pretty close to describing my attitude toward other drivers. I hate almost everyone's driving except my own. I hate riding in the car with other people. I've been with my wife for nearly seven years, and I'm just now getting used to her driving.

But I'm not a speeder. I'm not an aggressive driver, per se. I'm just very aggressive about other people's driving, because holy hell, people do some mind-bendingly stupid things behind the wheel. And I'm not talking about doing your makeup or reading the paper, I'm talking about stupid, traffic-related decisions. I'm talking about waiting until you're entering an intersection to flip your turn signal... I'm talking about crossing two lanes when you merge and going 15 under the speed limit in the passing lane... I'm talking about stopping 25 feet behind the next car at a light and blocking every car behind you from making a right on red...

...and I'm talking about the assumption that everyone just rolls through stop signs.

Now again, I have been known to do a little California Rolling from time to time, but when I'm coming up behind someone at a stop sign, I don't assume they're going to do likewise. Just try this sometime: For a whole day, make a full stop — you know, the one you're legally required to make — at all stop signs, and just observe the baseless rage in the driver behind you. I did it all day today, and I wasn't a dick about it. I didn't stop for three seconds or anything like that. I came to a full stop, glanced both ways, and went.

Almost to a tee, every single driver's car lurched from having to hit their brakes.

Some people's reaction makes you think they're actually going to come in the door at their house complaining like it ruined their day: "Jesus, honey, you shoulda seen what this a**hole did on Eighth Avenue. He STOPPED at the stop sign. The f*cking NERVE!"

You can accuse me of being a petulant jerk, but let's just step back and take a look at the situation. All I did today was make the same full stop the state policeman had you do in your driver's test. Actually, I probably didn't even do that, because I barely glanced both ways, I mostly just used my peripheral vision. And that was enough to piss people off. Badly.

It just struck me as interesting.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Dead Album Night with theCAUSE: 4/9/11, Moondog's, Blawnox, Pa.

"Lotta poor man got the Cumberland blues..."

Saturday was the first time I've been to Moondog's, in Blawnox. You can tell as soon as you walk in that it's one of those venues a ton of people have played before. It's got that well-worn blues-bar feel to it, great setting for live music, if not necessarily for a show that gets people moving like theCAUSE.

"Album night" was a blast, and not just because I predicted Workingman's Dead as the first album they'd play. It worked out on two fronts, actually, since not only is it my favorite Dead studio album, it's also the only one my father owns. He and my mother were in attendance, and I was concerned that he might lose interest if he didn't know any of the songs, but he recognized "Uncle John's Band" right off the bat, and I could tell he was into it. He's a huge fan of the guitar solo off of Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes song "Hearts of Stone" since, in his words, Dante Silvio — sorry, Little Steven Van Zandt — "just makes his guitar cry, and it fits so well with the song lyrics." Well, that description right there is the definition of Jerry Garcia guitar playing. Pappy Weingrad from theCAUSE has the unenviable task of trying to emulate Jerry AND Bob Weir simultaneously, but he does a fine job, and he's certainly nailed down the clear, cutting plaintive tone of Garcia's guitar.

The band was in a nice groove right from the funky opening jam that led into "Uncle John's Band." Parts of "New Speedway Boogie" were blasting off into the atmosphere... or at least I thought so, until Pappy and bass player Dave Tauberg took "Cumberland Blues" into hyperdrive, a jam I'm pretty sure single-handedly converted my mother into a Deadhead. She was stomping her foot so hard I thought she was going to aggravate her scoliosis.

We didn't stick around for the whole second set album — Skull & Roses, which is, I believe, culled from several 1972 shows — but a jam that led from "Playing in the Band" into "The Other One" had me flashing back to the Furthur concert a couple weeks ago.

Ultimately, "Album Night" is a little limiting, because it forces the band's hand in constructing a setlist that flows. If someone comes up with a great, spontaneous musical idea to transition into a song... it better be the next song on the album. That made for a couple of moderately awkward transitions, but it's still the best five bucks I spent all weekend.