Greetings all my fellow followers of the flow. Thank you all for joining us on our journey through this amazingly played and curated catalog we are so blessed to have. Some really special shows are set for future entries. Including what may be my favorite show ever slated for number 10. But enough teasing and stalling. Let’s hit the lights and take the stage with the best band in the land.
This 2014 fall tour was one of my favorites yet as the Brotherhood continued their assault on the senses of all that entered, bound to boogie. October 23rd found them at the famous Georgia Theatre in Athens. A town our Bliss Merchants and our Cosmic Captain, CR, are very familiar with. His soul settled safely now in the wondrous west, the return of the prodigal son to the state of his youth is always cause for excitement, both on the stage and off.
The crowds cheers sweep across the band and this recording as they take the stage and blaze into the Bill Haley popularized Shake Rattle & Roll. The undeniable energy of this open promises to “save our doggone soul”. But this is a bit deceiving, as it sounds we are in for a rock and roll dance hall session much like our previous entry. However the show quickly takes a turn to one full of spacey journeys and extended psychedelic funk forays. A theme that continues deep into the second set and encores. You’re going to want to go ahead and get this one downloading from the link in the bio. It’s truly a must hear. Several best ever’s and top five versions for even the most critical listener. But again, I’m getting ahead of myself due to excitement. This is a special show. We visit “Love Sick Charlie” and “Tear Drop Molly” as they lean into Jump The Turnstile. Always a treat early to get the crowd into that mid-tempo swing and bounce. George providing our own percussionist click track and we are “gone and off down the road”. This one is an extremely vibrant take. After the line marker pause they take us into a huge comeback, with Neal and his first of many precision solos. Just alive in every way, matching the souls of all who are surrounded by the sound they create. The crowd giving it back in cries of joy.
The Lost Crowes standout Tornado sounds like it has just barreled out of Levon’s Barn. This one a little different than most, a more cosmic colored and threatening to bend and disappear into the ether. Neal with an envelope sounding type filter on his guitar here, very oh so tastefully Garcia circa 83′-84′. Things really get into that galactic groove I mentioned on this monumental Lizzie Mae. The rhythm section leading the charge, especially George as he sounds like a steam locomotive tearing down a twisted track. CR is keeping perfect time and leading the crunchy charge and serving notice the “cool brother-hood had come to town”. Whipping the gathered into a great frenzy. “Don’t make me say pleeeeeeasssse”. Big groove with Adam and George in funk mode almost pulling Neal into the solo. Muddy weaving that thick bass line around the whine and call of Neal’s climb. Leading into a very spacey ending that continues the shows theme.
We pinball off glowing spheres looking for a friendly planet to land and settle on Tulsa after a really great transition. Muddy signals we have arrived with that familiar bass line. Letting it linger long enough to almost disappear and then bringing it back until Neal grabs hold and we are off. Not sitting this one out CR brushes his rhythm guitar along with George and Muddy’s jazzy swells until he cries “to know the real pain of looove”!! “Some things you own some you borrow. Neal’s lead dances with his tone in perfect time. A particularly pretty passage starts around the 11 minute mark as they tease the haunting feel of the looming Dylan anthem, A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall. Neal playing a melodic lead imitating the first verse. You have to come correct when taking on this 1963, “Freewheelin” opus. Legend has it this was written on a typewriter owned by our “Grateful” families very own Wavy Gravy. Another fitting nod to our front mans homecoming of sorts when he sings the line “oh, where have you been my blue-eyed son”. A troubadour returning with tales of worldly travels. A song Dylan said “every verse is the start of something big”.
We spread our “Dusty Wings” and approach the setbreak but that doesn’t mean slowing down. We ride Muddy’s pulse while dodging our Wizards lasers. “And the fire on the mountain burns”, “from a maze to as mist to a place like this, from a hole to star, wherever you are”. We slow down with Neal’s BIG solo here that seeks to climb up and up that New York City fire escape. Finding Miss Rosalee. “The Jangle” of this song, the centerpiece of Big Moon, is a particularly rowdy version with a big back end. The breakdown and rebuild section is beautifully done, with again, an EXTREMELY spacey (60 seconds plus) drum driven stacking of sounds. They push and push and it finally brings this buzz filled first set to a glorious close. CR mentions something about a “mandatory California break” and our feet finally touch the theatre floor again.
I’m sure the conversations around the venue were full of disbelief and what could be coming next. How do they top that? You are about to see that not only do they top it, but deliver one of the all time great sets in the Brotherhoods short but organic history.
New Orleans own, and eventual WWOZ disc jockey in the 80’s, Bobby Mitchell’s classic Try Rock and Roll starts to warm those NASA boosters back up for our second orbit. Just as in the first set, we start with a song that serves as a sort of Wild West desert to juxtapose these extraterrestrial territories we soon explore. We “drain that barrel and fill that pipe” and all for sure “do a dance all night”. We direct our attention to Mr Adam MacDougall as he delicately takes us to a Beggars Moon to light our way. CR and the rhythms chug is one of the keys to this song and I love how high it is in this mix of Ravens. “The will is the wisdom to come to our senses and see the open space inside”. Our captain at his best right there. Reflections is a “modern masterpiece” regardless of what the songs character says. Again maybe a nod to this homecoming with “vagabond child has come back home”. Another illuminating solo from Neal, and Adam gets a great breakdown in also. Very fun version of this CRB original. “We’re both of victims of gravity, she’ll never fly away from me.”
Now it’s time for my favorite song in the Brotherhoods list. Clear Blue Sky and the Good Doctor. A song I think of in two, actually three parts. This Phosphorescent Harvest epic about love overcoming everything, doesn’t get better than this version.
The first section, a mid-tempo uplifting passage that to me is the musical equivalent of a smile. The band using LOVE as music. “The blues, the only game you can lose.” Then we have the transition as the song slows down, but doesn’t stop. George slowing the proceedings with his Ride and then picking back up. “Leaning into the sideways rain”. Then we come to the last movement that when I close my eyes allows Adam to paint literal waves over me. As if paddling out into the break on a glassy early morning session. Again, George keeping the slowing time as steady as the tides. Taking us through CR’s “Sun came up this morning” cries only matched by Neal’s guitar work accompanying him into this heartache. I could listen to this song hourly. And this is my favorite of all versions I’m grateful to have etched into my ears and soul.
That L.A. sun firmly in the western sky we meet an “old mistake” walking down the street in the Grateful Dead “In The Dark” strut of West L.A. Fadeaway. Yeah, “we need a West L.A. girl, already know what I need to know.” This well played and favorite cover of mine sets us up for the full outer space charting part of this show. We start with my second, tours best version of the evening, and one of THE top Vibration Light Suite’s on tape. Hurry, don’t be afraid to join the trip. “Time to hear the music emitted from the spheres”, and “time to dance like children on our diamond tears”. So many things to see and hear, that you’ll just HAVE to sit down and allow this version to HAPPEN. You won’t believe it until you believe it. It’s got this almost Pink Floyd Time sequence in it where George is doing this really cool ticking clock thing on his ride bell. Neal starts teasing our next beast, Ride, very early and then finally its time. “People, get ready, to ride…….” This one descending into a controlled confusion as “the wind is blowing mystic sounds around” and stars and planets fly by at a dizzying pace. Finally we land in California for our Hallucination Nations anthem and our atmospheric “decompression” Sunday Sound. What I consider the Dark Star almost of the Brotherhoods cannon. And this, music like the previous Vibration, just MUST be heard. If you are a fan and have read this far go now and GET THIS SHOW!! A truly great, classic, all time CRB show comes to anthemic close and we brace for what would come for our encore. And oh man, did they dig DEEP!
They return with a version of the 1966 John Lee Hooker Blues bandit, Serves Me Right To Suffer! And put their very own cosmic twist on it. Listen to Neal dealing some Memphis mastery here with some really cool effects on top of his tone. So good!! In our second encore slot we get the Byrds – I Am A Pilgrim. From the all time great album, Sweetheart Of The Rodeo. Gram Parsons first album after joining the band. And second single from an album that could have been all singles!! Maybe one last nod to CR’s return, “I am a pilgrim and stranger traveling through this wearisome land”. Absolutely perfect cover of a perfect song for a band that’s carrying on this style of country psychedelic funk that GP and the band practically invented. You’ll listen to this closing track a minimum of 3 times. It’s that good.
This show is not background music, it is an experience. One that will leave you wondering how many MORE of these amazing performances are in Ravens Reels. Believe me there are plenty. And hopefully we can shine some eyes upon many of them as we continue along this labor of love. Click the link to get this show and a few others while you are there. You’ve got plenty of greats to choose from and if we can ever help point you towards any type or style show you may be looking for don’t hesitate to send us a message. Now press play and hold on!! Freak On brothers and sisters!!