I saw two excellent but very different shows over the past week. (OK actually it’s almost 2 weeks ago now…)
Last Friday was Dark Star Orchestra, the Grateful Dead cover band. If you’re not familiar with DSO, their shtick is that they don’t just cover songs, they cover entire shows. I was a minor-league Deadhead in college so when my friends told me DSO was coming to Princeton I jumped at the chance. So quickly, in fact, that we ended up with second row seats, woot!
Here’s the set they played (thank you DeadBase):
Tower Theater, Upper Darby, PA (6/23/76) set 1 Music Never Stopped Sugaree Mama Tried Row Jimmy Big River High Time Looks Like Rain Brown Eyed Women Lazy Lightnin' Supplication Friend of the Devil Promised Land
set 2 Samson and Delilah Might As Well Let it Grow drums Let it Grow Cosmic Charlie St. Stephen Not Fade Away St. Stephen Dancin' in the Streets The Wheel Johnny B. Goode
The whole “scene” was happening: people looking for miracles outside, super-sweaty freaked-out tripping guys and spinning hippy girls inside, etc. Of course there was no smoking inside which led to a weird scene: when the band left the stage and the crowd were cheering for them to come out for the encore, instead of lighters people held up their lit-up cell phones! It was pretty funny.
They are excellent musicians and the show (Cosmic Charlie, woo!) was fantastic. They are not kidding around about their Dead impression either – they have two drummers, their own “Donna”, and everything. As Joe put it, “You’d never know they weren’t the Dead… except their harmonies were on.” If you’ve been missing Jerry and are tired of The Other Ones, RatDog, etc (or even if you’re not), go see DSO.
Monday night was a different music direction. Kathy and I went to the new Dizzy’s Club (theoretically part of Jazz at Lincoln Center, although it is not in fact at Lincoln Center). The New School Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra was playing, and it was a birthday party for Candido Camero. Candido is from Cuba, and has recorded with some of the greats: Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Art Blakey, and many more. He is the originator of modern conga technique – before he came along people only played one drum at a time! Candido turned 85 and man can he still play! Along with the great music, there was cake for everyone. The band was tight and every song was preceded by a story or piece of history.
The venue was pretty cool – usually if I see jazz it’s at 55 Bar, one of my favorite dives. This place was the opposite, and so a nice change of pace. It’s pretty swank, and the musicians stand in front of a window looking out over Central Park. The cover is a steep $30, but on Mondays it’s only $15.