This Boss guy sure knows how to endear himself to a crowd, doesn’t he? Last night in Berlin, Bruce kicked off the show with “When I Leave Berlin” by British folk artist Wizz Jones. I’ll admit to knowing next to shizz about Wizz, but turns out he’s one of the most revered, influential folk artists to come out of the UK. “When I Leave Berlin” was the title track of his fourth album released in 1973.
Not sure how the song got on to Bruce’s radar. It’s likely that he’s a Wizz fan, or maybe just as likely he Googled “songs about berlin” a few days before the gig? Who knows? Bruce does, actually.
But at any rate, watching this video earlier today was the first time I’d knowingly heard the tune. And the warm, heartfelt spirit that emanates from Bruce to the Berlin crowd was enough to put a smile on my face and a mist in my eyes. Maybe it’s the combined macht of my Bruce fandom and my German heritage, but it sure is a beautiful thing to behold…
The first time I saw Los Lobos live was August 4th, 1996 as part of the Furthur Festival, launched by Bob Weir and Mickey Hart (two surviving members of the Grateful Dead) the year after Jerry Garcia’s passing.
Along for the short summer tour was Ratdog (Weir’s band), Mickey Hart’s Mystery Box, Los Lobos, Hot Tuna, and Bruce Hornsby.
Phoenix was the last stop on the tour. It was August. It was hot. And I was there.
The Los Lobos set sparked a lifetime love of the band for me. The set was only 45 minutes long, but the rich and eclectic nature of the music reeled me in. Rock n’ roll, blues, traditional Mexican, a Hendrix cover, and of course what I came to know as their signature Dead cover of “Bertha” (done better than any band outside of the Grateful Dead).
So I was stoked to come across this short but power-packed set (not to mention it’s a soundboard recording) from that very hot summer day in 1996, and I’m excited to share it with you all.
Los Lobos: an American treasure. And they’re still out on the road. I’ll be catching them again in a couple of short weeks – June 15th at Wild Horse Pass Casino here in the Phoenix area. Life’s too short not to.
August 4th, 1996
Desert Sky Pavilion, Phoenix
Furthur Festival (last show of the tour)
If that crazy bastard John McCauley is involved, count me in. John’s main gig is Deer Tick, but he’s also popped up in a couple of indie supergroups: Middle Brother (along with Delta Spirit’s Matt Vasquez and Taylor Goldsmith from Dawes) and, most recently, Diamond Rugs, featuring members of other bands like Los Lobos, Dead Confederate, and the Black Lips.
The bare bones, stripped down rock n’ folk vibe is prevalent in the record. John’s signature snarl shows up on songs like “Gimme a Beer,” “Call Girl Blues” (killer horn riffs by Lobos’ Steve Berlin and Deer Tick’s Robbie Crowell, presumably), and the killer holiday-themed ballad “Christmas in a Chinese Restaurant” (John’s good at those tear jerkers when he wants to be).
Another cool thing about this record is new exposure to some of the other guys. Ian Saint Pe of the Black Lips opens the album with a great one, the punked out, sneering “Hightail.” The tune pulled me right into this record…
“Blue Mountains” is one of Ian’s others songs that I really like. I like his laid back, sing/talk style.
And then there’s “Country Mile,” sung by Dead Confederate‘s Hardy Morris, which jumps between fuzzed out psychedelic rock and country blues. There’s all sorts of cool instrumental shit going on in this one – pedal steel, guitar and keyboard effects – particularly in the last minute or so of the song…
Add this to the list of albums that gets better with each listen. The contributions from all of these guys makes for a diverse experience that has you finding something new to like each time around.
Diamond Rugs will play The Late Show with David Letterman on June 25th. You can pick up the record on Amazon here… Diamond Rugs
There’s an insane amount of live Grateful Dead shows on YouTube these days, and I’ve fallen hard into the rabbit hole the past couple of weeks.
I’ve spent some time traveling back to the late 80’s at Alpine Valley (to think I was a clueless 18 year old just 45 minutes away at this moment), the early 90’s at the Sam Boyd Silver Bowl in Las Vegas (where I saw my final Dead show), and most recently – today in fact – over in Germany at the 1981 Rockpalast Festival.
The show really takes off midway through the first set, with the run of “Sugaree”, “Me & My Uncle”, “Mexicali Blues”, and the funky disco-jamming of “Shakedown Street.”
Here’s the Dead at the Rockpalast Festival in March 1981 – all three hours and twenty-two minutes – featuring a guest appearance late in the show by a Mr. Pete Townshend.
For the second time in seven months, Rhode Island band Deer Tick stopped into the Crescent Ballroom in downtown Phoenix to rock the joint with their good time fusion of bar room rock n’ roll, folk, country and punk.
The set list was largely similar to their last stop in October, featuring a bunch of tunes from their latest album Divine Providence. Once again, front man & “drunken devil” John McCauley showed why he’s one of the most raw and charismatic live performers out there. But he also shared the spotlight with his band mates – guitarist Ian O’Neil taking lead vocals on the fiery “Walkin Out the Door” and the electric piano-powered ballad “Now It’s Your Turn” (a tune whose intro reminds me of the Stones “Melody Motel”); and drummer Dennis Ryan sang “Clownin Around”, a tune he wrote about John Wayne Gacy.
The DP songs grow stronger live as they log more days and weeks on the road. “Main Street”, “Funny Word” and “Miss K” are as strong and explosive as ever.
Non-Divine Providence highlights for me were “Ashamed” (cool arrangement & a killer sax solo from Rob Crowell); “Easy” (my favorite tune from Born On Flag Day); “Not So Dense” (watching John scream “I watch 60 minutes go by hour after hour after hour!!“- priceless); but most of all, my favorite Deer Tick tune of ’em all – “Dirty Dishes” – which I’d never seen performed live in my previous three DT shows.
Unlike the album version, they do the song a Capella in five part harmony. It started off a little shaky, with O’Neil jumping ahead of the others during the first verse. But everyone laughed it off and they were right back on track. The harmonies capture the sad beauty of the song, and it was a hell of a treat to see it live. If only we could get the crowd to shut their mouths during the quiet songs like this. Some people sure like to go to shows and spend their time talking and talking (and talking and talking). But what are you gonna do…
Deer Tick delivered again – a fun, killer live band – one I’ll be obliged to go out & see whenever they roll through town.
→ And I have to mention the opening band, Nashville’s Turbo Fruits. I’d never heard of these guys before seeing them on the bill with Deer Tick. But Wowee & Holy Sheeet – pure adrenaline, hard-driving, Les Paul-thrashing, cymbal-crashing, flying scissor-kicking ROCK AND ROLL. If you’re going out to see Deer Tick, get there in time to see Turbo Fruits.
Here’s “Dirty Dishes” from last night, starting near the beginning of the first verse…