the shearing party, part one

5 .8 .09 -- Seaside

I had finished shooting the film, Dreadheads, five years ago.  I was ready for a coif change, from shoulder-length-straight to something much shorter.  The more I thought about the prospect, the more my thoughts went: "You've done a film about dreadlocks; you've never had them (I'd never thought about having them);  no time like the present."

So, on an annual vacation at Seaside, FL, with a group of friends who had been coming down here the same week in May for years, I stopped brushing and started dreading.  At some point in the process, I decided that when I cut them off, I would do it at Seaside, with this same group of people.

It's been five years and it's been a good run and I love the dreads --but they gots to go.  I'll post pics of everyone in the group, starting with:

holmes, and . . .

lisa marie, with full moon rising.

full moon rising, seaside -- change is coming.

say it ain't so, jimmy

5 .9 .08 -- Seaside

Went to see the Jimmy Herring Band at the Variety Playhouse (Atlanta) two nights ago, and would like nothing more than to say I was blown away . . .  Of course all the players were top notch and Jimmy's playing is extraordinary; both of these things, and an enthusiastic hometown crowd, however, could not make up for material that only occasionally elevated the blood pressure.

jimmy, greg osby, jeff sipe, thursday night.

row jimmy

5 .8 .09  -- Seaside

Just got down to my house in Seaside.  Everyone else (Holmes / Lisa Marie, Melissa, [her daughter] Rhanatah, Todd / Janice) settled in a couple days ago.  This (more or less) is the same group that was here at my house when I started the dreads five years ago.  I'll explain the connection / story in the next post, probably tomorrow.

BTW, this is the 32nd anniversary of the legendary Dead show at Cornell, in Barton Hall, in the middle of a late spring snow storm.   And speaking again of fave song versions, this night featured a nice "Row Jimmy," along with the ultimate "Scarlet / Fire": Phil's (rarely done) sliding bass fills to start the song, the elegant ambience / presence of the recording, incindiary Garcia, and, of all things, an inspired Donna, absolutely / completely (rarely done) nailing all her ohh's and ahh's.

Tommorow, the dreads go.

aud vs. sbd
I can't remember if I've said this specifically or only hinted at it, but if you want to hear any of the current Dead shows, search them out on  You can stream or download.  A good aud recording has way more soul-spirit, audience participation and ambience-atmosphere than the official sbd's.

and now, a commercial message . . .
Just as I was composing the previous post, I got this email from my good friends at Carnegie Hall:

Carnegie Hall presents




Notables News

We hope you enjoyed the performance of Terry Riley’s
In C on April 24. You can now listen to a newly remastered reissue package of the original In C recording in your own home! This newest release from Carnegie Hall Presents features all the elements from the first recording of this iconic work, as well as new liner notes transcribed from recent interviews with Riley, the project’s original session producer David Behrman, and several performers from the original historic studio sessions.

Buy now at The Shop at Carnegie Hall ›


Carnegie Hall

mozart stoned
This is the interview with Terry Riley and his "In C" performance that mentions Phil Lesh.  It's from Carnegie Hall's Playbill.  Still don't know if they actually met.

By Jason Victor Serinus
22 Apr 2009

Terry Riley
photo by Christopher Felver

Forty-five years after its premiere, Terry Riley’s minimalist masterpiece In C arrived at Carnegie Hall April 24. This one-time-only event featured the talents of Riley, the Kronos Quartet and 60 artists from all musical disciplines.


Jason Victor Serinus had a chance to speak to Riley in this interview, conducted prior to the concert date.


Before the walls of this venerable institution begin to melt and reform anew, here’s what Riley and Kronos Quartet founder David Harrington say about the minimalist musical be-in that altered the course of music history.

Jason Victor Serinus: As I recall the origins of In C, Terry, you were playing honky tonk at the Gold Street Saloon in San Francisco, and you were stoned …

Terry Riley: Properly stoned …

JVS: … riding the bus to your gig in May of ’64, when …

TR: ... I heard the opening of In C. I was sitting there and thinking, “This is an amazing sound—it would be a great idea for a piece.” The patterns started unfolding, maybe the first two or three lines, before I had to get off the bus. But I wasn’t able to solve the problem until the idea for In C came along as a package. The next day, I got up and wrote down all 53 repetitive patterns. It was funny because it seemed like at the end of the page, I was done. I didn’t think to start page two; it seemed like that was the conclusion of it.

David Harrington: That’s faster than Mozart, isn’t it?

TR: It was more simple-minded than Mozart.

JVS: It was Mozart stoned.

TR: Consistently and always. Eternally.

JVS: Did it take you a while to figure out what to do with the patterns?

TR: I didn’t have a game plan. The music sat on the shelf until Ramon Sender, who was directing the San Francisco Tape Music Center with Morton Subotnick, said that he’d like to do a show at 321 Divisadero Street. People like Phil Lesh and even Janis Joplin were dropping in to 321 Divisadero. It was on the circuit of hip places to check out. Their light shows with music were a preview of the rock light shows that were yet to happen at the Fillmore and other places.

JVS: That was before the Summer of Love.

TR: It was the beginning of the psychedelic movement, just before the big psychedelic Trips Festival at the Longshoreman’s Auditorium with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. I had to get friends to play for free in the first performance. I didn’t ask them what instrument they played. It didn’t matter. We had recorders; Steve Reich had a melodica [a combination between an accordion and a harmonica].

11 .8 .01, phil and friends

After emersing myself in 10 Dead concerts in three weeks, I went back and listened to this searing Phil show; it stuns more than all those dates put together.   The recording is great.  Warren will play anything.  Jimmy channels lightning.  Molo is a motherfucker.  Rob rocks.  Phil gets inspiration from them like no other band he's had.  And, they're using music stands, not telepromptrs!

Click for bigger

OMG.  This was the first show of the tour.  Check Phil's American flag-ish T that he wore at several shows.  Check the setlist.  This was their first concert after 9/11.

2001 was the most astonishing year for the "Q."

my final show, epilogue

5 .2 .09 -- The Spectrum, Philadelphia

There's a light-hearted romp through Dead stereotypes in Slate (hat tip: Christian), where the writer reveals "what kind of fan you are, as revealed by your favorite Dead song."  I don't even know if I agree with the premise, i.e., that a Deadhead has a "favorite" Dead song.  We have favorite eras, favorite shows, favorite keyboard players, etc., but if I had to pick one song to take to a desert island with me, I have no idea what it would be.  I guess the point of the article, though, is to say that Deadheads take their Dead songs personally, often to the point of absurdity.  So far in this journal, I've mostly refrained from applying a particular song, played a particulay night, to my personal shit.  It's all so arbitrary yet so meaningful yet so idiosyncratic yet so universal. . . that it matters completely, and yet not at all.  Well, tonight is my last show of the tour, my last show with dreads (which I probably wouldn't have attempted outside GD culture), and it's going to get personal.  So, let's get on with the show . . .

This is just "One More Saturday Night," in the same way the day you die is "just like any other day / that's ever been."  But it's also a different Saturday night: OMSN is an unusual opener, and this is my last show, my last one with dreads (by this time next week, they'll be gone -- I'll explain in a later post).  "Brown-Eyed Women" is always fun, has the great Hunter line ("the bottle was dusty / but the liquor was clean"), and has Phil, as usual, singing the coda line to audience cheers: "and it looks like the old man's gettin' on."  He might be getting on, but we're glad he's still around.

"Schoolgirl > Althea."  Hmmm . . . (even after listening to tapes of the show) both songs were well-performed and have their adherents . . . but I'm not one of them.  For me, this blues is a snooze, and "Althea," although a great story, is long and slow and needs sparkle and magic for this band to pull it off, which I'm not feeling.  On the other hand, I need a drink, and go get one. 

"He's Gone" has everyone in The Spectrum singing along, is well-played, has a great jam-out.  But, a digression, if I may: has anyone missed the drummers on this tour?  Kreutzmann's levels in the mix seem unbearably low, and Mickey's non-existent (except during "drums > space").  And I say this having sat side-stage, almost directly under the stacks, on Warren / Mickey's side for several shows.  At almost any point in any song, I could watch Mickey play the rhythm or do a run, and hear nothing.  I don't mean he was low in the mix -- I mean nothing.  And I've asked people sitting next to me if they could hear him.  No.  Nada.  How is it possible after this many shows?  Listen here for tonight's show's anemic drums; listen to this "Shakedown", or any John Molo performance with Phil, for the way drums should not only be present in the mix, but drive the fucking music.  With all due respect, Billy and Mickey aren't driving the songs, they're just playing along.  Then again, I felt this way with the '03 and '04 versions of the band, so nothing's changed on that front.

There's a nice transition into the sweetness of "Uncle John's Band," and, just before the solo half the band sings, "Come with me or go alone / he's come to take his children home," while the other half sings, "Got some things to talk about / here beside the rising tide."  Usually when this happens (and it happened all the time in Grateful Dead), the vocalists figure out which line they want to sing and all resolve on it.  This time, everyone sings out his complete line.  Then Warren even starts the "Come hear uncle John's band" as he goes into his solo.  Hilarious!  Maybe they should do it in rounds a couple of times before the solo!  (BTW, at this point in the game, i.e., after 40 years of this same "mistake," I couldn't tell you which is the proper line.)  Warren changes things up in the break with a nice little reggae section.  Showing his frustration with lyrical challenges, as they sing "how does the song go," Bob takes both hands and exaggeratedly claps his ears (he coulda had a V-8!).  Again, hilarious.

(Short digression . . .  I don't know about my fave GD song, but my fave version of UJB (after a two-year hiatus) can be heard here, or on Dick's Picks 5 (the "Estimated" that follows is also my fave).  I especially like Brent's clinky keyboard sound (more upfront on DP than the aud.), his high vocals and the ferocious tete-a-tete between Jerry, Bob and Brent in the main solo section.  Brilliant.  And speaking of Brent, when Warren (whose vocal register is similar to Brent's) was with Phil and Friends, they would routinely perform his "Just a Little Light," and sometimes nail it as well as the GD.  Listen here to the monster 25-minute intro "jam > Light"; I was there, and it was / still is awesome.  I really miss this version of P&F; I haven't heard The Dead do the song in the 10 shows I've seen.)

The UJB outro is also hoot-a-riffic.  After the last verse and the outro into the Dm section, they jam hard for four minutes or so, change keys, move subtly / softly into "Mason's Children," then, it seems, forgetting they haven't done the UJB coda yet, change back to the Dm and perform that as a lead-in to a rockin' "Mason's" to close the set.  Jesus, I love this band.

A slow tempoed (not the punk-intensity early versions of the GD that I love), good-natured "Good Lovin'" starts the second set, and gets me thinking, re: my rash (which has morphed into full-body-boiled-lobster-redness): I really need to ask my family doctor just what it is I have!)

(Another digression: I find the aud recordings of the shows have more life and energy than the official SBD's, and, of course, they're free.)

The "Cumberland" that follows is solid.  The "Cryptical" (sung by Phil) is NOT punctuated by the anticipated Phil-bomb into "The Other One."  My thought during OO is that my dreads have a death sentence on them ("you know [they have] to die") a week from now, still, I'm not bummed.  I can't imagine wanting to be any other place than right here, right now.

dread death sentence!  right here, right now.

The Rhythm Devils emerge from the ruins of OO, and are as captivating as they've been all tour.  Why most people use this as their bathroom break is beyond me; but they probably think the same about me when I do mine during "Sugaree."  Oh well.  "Morning Dew" emerged from "space" and I have to admit -- I left to get a drink.  Jerry didn't, but later mentions a lick Weir did on the Europe '72 "Dew" that's still part of the structure of the song today.

jerry contemplates weir's lick in"morning dew"

I get back in time for the rousing finale, and then, well, it gets personal.  After the big applause for "Dew," "St. Stephen" cranks up, and it's personal because my actual  is Steven.  "Wherever he goes the people all complain?"  I hope not.  I have, however, "prospered in my time."  The classic section after "one man gathers what another man spills."  Warren does his descending sitar lick in the solo.  I can finally hear some drums from Mickey.  Phil rumbles underneath, always interesting.  Bob snaking around Warren's blistering attack.  Chementi filling everything out with the B-3.  I'm looking out on the grooving crowd, the lights; feeling the focus everyone has on the music, awaiting / experiencing the transcendence we all want.  Then the rising / ascending major chord riff kicks in (yeah!) and (oops) wobbles into a lame-ass build-up to the final verse.  I always used to think the line, "here so long he's got to calling it home," was "hair so long he got to calling it home."  I didn't know what it meant, but it seemed right.

Instead of "The Eleven" I was hoping for, "Revolution" emerged.  As I said in an earlier post, this ain't my fave Beatles song they do, but I take the chorus line, "you know it's gonna be all right," to apply to how I'm going to feel a week from now when I'll have no hair to call home.
Thinking the band has pretty much played the "important" stuff, I begin to process the night when the classic strum of "Help on the Way" cuts through and the whole place gets a second wind.  A strong workout of "Slipknot!" flows into (of course, this being Philly -- even though they'd encored with it three nights earlier) a triumphant "Franklin's Tower," with hippies shaking, everyone smiling and The Spectrum a few hours away from being a fond memory.

Phil, during donor rap: "Well, I'm feeling the love from Philadelphia tonight.  God bless you. . ..  This has been one of the most satisfying performances of the series of performances we've played yet on this tour . . ..  Everything here is so beautiful and good."

"Not Fade Away" applause from the audience.

Then, yes, the  "Samson and Delilah" encore, with Warren wailing on slide and he and Bob singing and a tremendous cheer from everyone:  "If I had my way / if I had my way / if I had my way / I would tear this old building down!"

Bob, immediately after "Samson":  "That's right.  This song is dedicated to tomorrow."  Well, I'm dedicating it to next Saturday night, when, like Samson-of-old, I'm getting my dreads cut.  My head won't be "as clean as my hand," but the Trixter Fox is gonna lose his locks. 

Talk about a "personal" setlist.  Thanks, you guys, for 10 great shows and a real good time.

my final show, prelude

5 .2 .09  --The Spectrum, Philadelphia

After getting in late to too many shows, and being that this is my last of the tour, Jerry and I get to the lot at 5 p.m.  I do some filming (but, ultimately, not enough, I'm afraid) for the proposed "tribe" video.  

I see Erin, Dreadheads' superstar, who is working for Ken Kesey Productions, selling their videos, posters, memorabilia, etc.  She tells me about a copy of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" that Kesey had signed specifically "For Steven," and asks me how I spell my name ("v" or "ph"?)  I say "v" and she says she's been looking for a Steven for a while and would I like to buy the autographed "Cuckoo's Nest" below for X (less), instead of Y (list)?  Well, sure:

Walking through the lot, I see t-shirt Pete (he miracled me one of his shirts the other day) who mentions it's Derby Day and do I have any Maker's?  Dude, what, are you nuts?  Of course I have Maker's (but he knew that), and we share a toast to the long shot who won the race.  I move on to another booth, where I see the winner of the-best-leg-and-footwear-of-tour contest (with color-coordinated hat):

the fox's footwear can't compare . . .

Finally, it's time to go in to the show, and preparations are made.  Let's see: car keys, plastic flask, walking-to-the-entrance-drink, camera, daytimer, vest-with-pockets (so I don't have to store the camera, phone, flask, daytimer, etc., in my pants' pockets once inside):

no, that's not listerine in the bottle.

These are the final music shows at The Spectrum, where the GD played a total of 53 from 1968 through 1995 -- more than at any other venue except for Winterland (60).  MSG comes in third (52), and SF's Fillmore in fourth (51).  After a respectful frisk (i.e., he didn't even try), we're in for my last show of the tour, as well as this venerable building's last concert ever.  Even though it's Saturday night, everyone's predicting/anticipating a "Samson" encore.  We shall see.

forgot to mention . . .

USA Today (America's Pravda), reviewed the current Dylan CD a week or so ago, and commented on the new direction of his lyrics ("Of course, nothing separates Dylan from the pack like his craggy vocals and literate lyrics. Long ago celebrated for his surreal winding narratives, he now deals in straight talk, his searing irony and sly humor delivered with greater economy. Shake Shake Mama and It's All Good crackle with twisted humor. He still has the power to spook ['The door has closed forevermore/If indeed there ever was a door'].").  The writer made no mention that Robert Hunter had a hand in collaborating with Dylan on most of them.  I mean, you expect the paper to be lame, but come on.

Go here for more details.


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