Sunday, July 17, 2016

Dead Heads Take Over Boston - July 15-16, 2016!

On July 15th and July 16th, Dead and Company played two shows at the world famous Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. As a New Yorker, you could guess that I'm not a big fan of the team that plays there, but that aside, its a nice stadium. I could not help but have flashbacks to the Fare Thee Well shows in Chicago, just a little over 1 year ago.

As I walked with one of my colleagues from my office in Boston Financial District to Dillons near Fenway, I saw lots of tie die. Many bars and pedicab drivers were playing Dead songs. Fenway has an excellent location smack in the middle of the city so all of the nearby restaurants were filled with Dead Heads. While at Dillons, I enjoyed a cold draft Pacifico, Siracha Honey wings , asparagus, friends and many other "Dead family members".

Donna Godchaux 
On the important stuff- the music itself! Night 1 opened with "Jack Straw"; I was excited to see Donna on stage. It wasn't too much of a surpris however, she has essentially been a honorary member of the band this year. She's been at many of the shows; I saw her guest at Citifield two weeks ago. That said, there her microphone wasn't up and I likely wouldn't have noticed she was there if not for seeing her.

To the contrary, this time around Donna's vocals were substantially more vibrant. During "Music Never Stopped", we heard lots of "oohs" from her.

While the first set was decent, it was tough to stay energetic with the the heat. It was said to be one of the hottest days of the year at 85-90 ° Fahrenheit. However the music kept our energy flowing; here's my friend Matt and I dancing to Jerry's "Loser".

 Unlike Sir Paul McCartney, who I am going to see at Fenway tonight, the Dead is known for avoiding small talk and just jamming. On the other hand, after "Loser", Bobby said " We're going to play something for the kids" and led into " Peggy-O".  The reggae-rock feel was very different the jazzy one I heard the last time I hard Bobby play the song with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band at Peach Festival 2015.

My Jewish-Dead Head friend Caitlin's foreshadowing than proved accurate as the band played the famous "Help on the Way"--"Slipknot"---- "Franklin's Tower" progression. With Oteil ripping it on bass, I was reminded of Wanee 2014, when I saw the Allman Brothers play Franklin's Tower with the help of Trey Anastasio. 

After a 40ish minute set break, in which I purchased necessary over-priced water and  ice cream to overcome the heat, the second set began with "St. Stephen". Just remember the important lesson: "One man gathers what another man spills." on the side is a nice and blurry selfie with my buddy Jordan, who's rocking his LOCKN' shirt.

The highlight of the set, which tends to me of any Dead related set  was "Terrapin Station. The lower pitched parts were similar of the Beatles. Unlike  the song "Don't Keep Me Wonderin", I was curious if Sir Paul might show up for "Hey Jude" or "Dear Prudence", two Beatles songs the Dead has covered in the past.

As he did at Citifield, John Mayer absolutely killed it, contributing lead vocals and a bit of shredding on guitar on Casey Jones.

We than got a "Black Muddy River"- "U.S Blues" double encore. It was nice to keep the July 4th spirit alive.

Dov and I entering Gate B!
The second night my friend Dov, who I met on the Halloween Dead and Company show last year that was staying at my place for the weekend, grabbed a quick beer and pizza at Sals and headed into the show early. I wasn't quite lucky like him to have an All- Access badge and get on the floor so I hung out in the Field Box. I won't hold it against him however as Don contributed most of these lovely photos.

Bobby with his fitting guitar strap
Here are Henry and I dancing to "Deal". 
The first set began with the predictable but good "Truckin". After a nice country-rock "Big River" Johnny Cash cover, my buddy Henry entered the show during Jerry's "The Love Each Other". He pretended to be a drugged up Dead Head creeping up on me. I was so invested into the music, he that scared me at first! Henry has been one of my music friends for several years now but this was only the second show we've been together, the first one being a Gov't Mule show at the Orpheum last year.  This was his first time seeing any of the members of the Dead since an actual Dead show with Jerry at the Meadowlands in 93.

Donna and Oteil contributed nice snippets of vocals to "Going Down the Road Feeling Bad". It made me want them to cover "Seven Turns", a song that Oteil has sung a lot on in recent years. Perhaps one day Dead and Company will play an ABB tune or two!

The second set began with a bang- "Playing in the Band". It's amazing how Bobby can still shout at 68. I could not be more happy when they are started playing "Sugaree". Earlier in the night when they were playing "They Love Each Other", I said those two songs were my favorite Jerry songs!

The next song was great but totally unexpected- "Fire on the Mountain"! This song almost always comes after Scarlet Begonias. Fellow Dead Heads- help me out- how often does this happen?

A nice shot of Jeff Chimenti, one of two keyboardists,
along with Bruce Hornsby, that also played at Fare Thee Well.
 Thanks to Dov for the photo.

As the next song began, a lot of people did a famous clap- you know what that means...... It was a "Not Fade Away" encore, which was also the encore at July 5th and final Fare Thee Well show last year. As in Chicago, everyone clapped a solid 10-15 minutes as we left the stadium.

The one thing I would like to see differently is not playing "One More Saturday Night" as an encore every Saturday night they play. While it's a great song, one of my favorite Dead songs, that and Ripple do a get a little too predictable as encores as they play it so much.

Here are some other good photos from the run:

Billy with Honorary Rhythm Devil Oteil!

Dov and I at After Party with Barely Dead
at House of Blues, dancing to Cumberland Blues!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Tedeschi Trucks Band Headlines 4th Annual Sold-Out Levitate Music Festival!

On Saturday, July 9th, 2016, 10,000 people attended the Sold-Out Levitate Music Festival at the Marshfield Fairgrounds, 40 minutes outside of Boston.  The festival was headlined by Tedeschi Trucks Band and featured performances from Luther Dickinson's North Mississippi All-Star Band, Twiddle, Lettuce and other bands. 

You certainly got a lot of bang for your buck, the tickets only costing $65, even less if you got them Early Bird. I paid a lot more than for each night of Tedeschi Trucks Beacon Run in October. Considering all the other good bands you see, steal Your Face right off you're head! 

Some of the sets, including that of Lettuce and North Mississippi Allstar Band, were too short, being about 45 minutes each If I were to change one thing about the festival, I'd say have 1-2 bands perform less and have each band play at least an hour. 

Here's my review of festival in photos: 

I arrived during middle of Moon Taxi set, when they were playing cover of "All Along the Watchtower" 
This is Mihali Savoulidis, guitarist of Twiddle. They played good mix of reggae and rock. They were at Peach 2015, but I didn't get a chance to see much of set as they were playing at same time as another band I was more interested in seeing. 

I was super excited to see North Mississippi Allstars as I saw Luther Dickinson several times as a guest for the Allman Brothers but never with his own band. Here he is playing a super funky guitar. He did a lot of bluesy rock numbers and added in a lot of shredding and a bit of tapping. 

I took this photo as he was walking off stage. He laughed when I shouted I hope to see him at Beacon with Allman Brothers soon! 

Lettuce without Eric Krasno- Good set but the band definitely isn't as good without Krasno.  

With a new friend that I met in line. Food Truck lines during dinner time were too long; had to miss a lot of Los Lobos set:(

Tedeschi Trucks played a nice rendition of the title track of their new album "Let Me Get By". It is the first time I heard the song live. I'm honestly not a huge fan of the recording but they jammed quite a bit on this one with Elizabeth Lea doing an extended trombone solo. 

Derek and Susan with Dave Hidalgo from Los Lobos!

With TTB, you never what you are going to get: blues, rock, funk, country, etc. Tonight Susan played a nice country cover of Color of the Blues.  Alicia Shakour and Mike Mattison provided backup vocals. I'm a little surprise Susan played electric guitar, not acoustic on this one. 

These are my friends Audrey and Jonathan during Joe Cocker "With a Little Help from My Friends" encore; This was a great song to end their first music festival!! 

Bob Dylan Contributes to Forest Hills Stadium on July 8th 2016!

Last week I witnessed Paul Simon make history in what might be his last show of his career in Forrest Hills Stadium. Last evening Bob Dylan made another big mark in Forrest Hills Stadium History. For more information and a detailed review of the show, check out this guest post by my dear friend Jerry Graham. We attended a Bob Dylan show together at Barclays Center in November 2012.
This is a picture of Jerry,
his cousins ad I at a Furthur Show
 at Cyclones Stadium in July 2010. 

The Bob Dylan concert was great, which actually was not what I expected. It was 51 years ago that he played his first all-electric concert at the same stadium in Forest Hills (Newport was only half electric). It was great to see and pay homage to the man who wrote so many songs I enjoy. In my opinion the best contemporary poets in the English language are Bowie, Dylan, Lennon and Reed. Of those four, Dylan wrote the most songs by far. This Dylan concert was way better than any of his other recent concert in the NYC area. Having said that, I will now dissect it as systematically as possible.

Audience: Compared to a Grateful Dead related audience, the older people were older. There were far more women. There were young African American women (all with white men), but no African American men. I should note that Dylan’s second wife is African American. In general the audience members didn’t show a visible connection between their life style and their musical interest. They seemed like mostly middle aged and elderly white people from all walks of life, with some young people mixed in. It seemed like most were sincere fan, but like always there were a few assholes with too much money who kept on getting up to buy beer and piss.

Engineering: The engineering was superior to the last two or three times he was in New York. You could hear all the instruments and his voice pretty distinctly, or as distinctly as humanly possible. Of course I imagine it is less of a challenge to accomplish this in a smaller venue.

Lighting: As with the previous visit to Jones Beech the lighting was dim. People criticized him for wearing dark glasses to receive a medal from President Obama. I put two and two together and say his eyes are extremely sensitive to light.

Music: Dylan always gets the best backup musicians. It seemed the instruments were one guitar, a double bass, an electric bass and drums. He got a sound that was raw, bright, and articulate. Dylan played the piano and the harmonica. The harmonica riff was short and simple, but at least he did it. The piano playing was not terribly technical. It was beautiful, what you would expect from a good musician who is relaxing and not showing off.

Opening Act: The opening act was Mavis Staples. She’s a great singer and she knows how to work a crowd. She played some very danceable numbers She talked about the civil rights movement, how she had attended the March On Washington where Dr. King spoke. She sang a song that her father had wrote at the time for the occasion. She also had a small band: two backup singers, a male one and a female one with a tambourine. There was just guitar, bass and drums.

Rapport: By all accounts, Dylan is not a friendly man. And he has a lot of trouble with his voice, so when he speaks, no one can tell what he’s saying anyhow. But he did say “Thank you” and I think he thanked us for helping him sing Tangled Up and Blue. But no one could really tell exactly what he said. We were all asking each other. I thought his body language seemed appreciative rather than hostile or aloof.

Singing: Toward the beginning of the concert he seemed to have trouble with his voice, but he was going out his way to be audible and expressive. Later on he seemed to be doing better. You could hear almost every word he was singing. Interesting how he likes to keep touring despite this problem. My impression is that he really likes to see his fans as much was we like to see him, and aside from the voiced problem, which must be pretty frustrating, he enjoys it. I should note that he had a operation on his voice and overall it was somewhat better than in recent years.
I should clarify that I am not one of those people who thinks he always had a bad voice. I think he generally used it differently than other singers, very expressively if not always melodious.

Song Choice: He always plays the more recent songs more. Except for Blowing in the Wing, he played nothing earlier than Tangled Up and Blue. He also used to be more confrontational. For example he made a return from a long absence in Tanglewood during the beginning of the first Gulf War. He had his publicist tell everyone that most of his songs aren’t protest songs. Then of course he opened with Masters of War. I don’t know why he doesn’t play his early songs, but I can guess. I don’t think it’s because he doesn’t like them anymore or that he can’t sing them. Anyone who thinks he isn’t a businessman is mistaken. In addition to his songs, he intends to leave this world two herds of grandchildren and great-grandchildren who are multi-millionaires. He probably gets a much lower percentage of royalties on the earlier recordings.

Venue: The Forest Hills Stadium is the smallest venue I’ve seen him at, which I think is best for all concerned. There are much fewer bad seats. It is outdoors and most of the seats are benches with no backs. Also each exit serves more seats, so it would take forever to evacuate in the case of a terrorist attack. Otherwise a better venue. Not far from the city like Jones Beech. So why does he play places like the Barkley Center at all? Again it’s probably the grandchildren and great-grandchildren again.

Visual: It wasn’t really possible to see him, but it was still better than his other recent concerts. I remember when I saw him years ago at the Hurricane concert, I could see him pretty well. I think it’s the lighting rather than my eyes. He did at least where a white hat and pants with a vertical stripe on each side so you could kind of see what he was doing. He looked like a mushroom with that hat.

Weather: There was a light rain as people arrived and Mavis Staples started singing. The benches were wet. Fortunately there was a light breeze and I soon got dried up. I had on a hat very similar to Bob Dylan except that mine was black and waterproof.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Paul Simon's Last Show in Forest Hills?!

Fun fact- Paul Simon is a fellow Brandeis alum as he got an honorary degree in music in 2010. He honored his fellow “classmates” with a rendition of Boxer.

Lots of people on their phones during Rain Delay..
 If its it was Dead and Company show, people
would be signing,dancing and Not Fade Away Clapping! 
 On Friday, July 1st he played the last show of his 2016 “Stranger to Stranger” tour at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, NY.  The show the night before (Beatles reference alert!) sold out so they added this show. At 7:30 PM, the show was supposed to start; however as Bob Weir would have said, “It[ looked] like rain.” Finally at 8:56 PM my first Paul Simon show began with Proof into Boy in the Bubble.

Like Sir Paul McCartney, Simon still wows audiences of ages ranging from kids to senior citizens. To the contrary to fellow Paul, Simon continues to produce top-of-the line albums. Sir Paul has continued to release new albums in recent years but his latest one “Kisses from the Bottom” does not live up to the expectations of his Beatles and Wings hits. 

Not knowing Simons’ catalogue, I wasn’t actually 100% which songs were old and which ones were new! One of my two favorite new songs was the upbeat “Werewolf”; I could not help but flashbacks of Dead and Company’s “Werewolfs of London” encore on Halloween last year.  A woman behind me laughed when she heard me exclaim “Ooooh…. Werewolfs of London” midway through the song. The other was “Wristband”, which got everyone up and dancing towards the end of the set.  
Of course the show did feature a lot of greatest hits as well. “Slip Slidin’ Away” was very appropriate given the rain.  The first dance party of the night took place during “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard”. Lots of chuckling occurred when Simon shouted “ Queen of Corona”! Homeward Bound couldn’t have been more meta; after all Simon chose to wear a Queens t-shirt.
The band’s worldy rhythm (up to 5 percussionists at a time!) was featured in El Condor Pasa. However, it would have been nice if Paul could have added in some vocals; the lyrics of that song are beautiful: “I’d rather be a sparrow than a snail; yes I would, If I only could, I surely would.”  

The set ended with “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” followed by “You Can Call me Al.” It magically started heavily raining so people wouldn’t sit on the soaked benches and got up to dance.
Most bands will come out for a song or two as an encore; however, not several as Paul Simon generally does. My mind started jogging when he sung “Still Crazy After All These Years” as I started to think about other songs that actually gained more meaning several decades after they were written:

-When I’m Sixty Four: “Will you still love me, will you still need me, will you still feed me when I’m Sixty-Four?”
-Truckin’: “Lately it occurs to me what a long strange trip it’s been”
-Midnight Rider: “The road goes on forever.”

Paul Simon begun the encore with an upbeat cover of Elvis Presley’s “That’s Alright Mama.”

The highlight of the encore was a rare live version of “Like a Bridge Over Troubled Water”. Although Simon wrote the song, Art Garfunkel generally sung it.
Paul Simon made up for the rough start by playing way past the venue’s 10:00 PM curfew until 11:10. As many people left before and after show began, a lot of spots opened up so my dad and I were able to get to the second row for the encore to take some nice videos.

It’s crazy after all these years that this very well might have been Paul’s last show in his hometown. We’ll see if rumors are true or not. 

This cool poster was all over the place in Queens;
very true statement about the borough! 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Young Professionals Circle Cocktails and Mixology Evening in Boston, May 7th

Image result for sharsheret                Image result for tremont street shul                    Image result for moishe house cambridge

Register today for Sharsheret/Tremont Shul 20s30s Group/ Moishe House Cambridge's 1st ever Young Professionals Circle event in Boston on Saturday, May 7th from 9:15 PM to 11:15 PM! Join us for an evening of cocktails and mixology, win great raffle prizes, and meet other young professionals interested in raising awareness about breast cancer and ovarian cancer in the community. For more information, contact  Sharsheret Outreach Program Assistant, Sarah Eagle or 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Please Donate to Tremont Shul 20s 30s Group's 2016 Walk For Hunger Team!

Our team is proud to be joining Project Bread on Sunday, May 1st for the 48th annual Walk for Hunger.
Please help us reach our fundraising goal by donating to our Walk page!
Every dollar helps support the more than 255,000 food-insecure households in Massachusetts that can’t always predict where their next meal is coming from.
For the past 48 years, tens of thousands of people have met at the Boston Common to show their unified commitment to ending hunger in Massachusetts and walk together— making a powerful statement about our shared commitment to helping people in need.
Donate towards our $3,600 fundraising goal here: 
Also if you are in the Boston area and  want to walk with us, sign up for our team!