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.

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