Bombino, Young Fathers and Fantastic Negrito at Central Park SummerStage on 7/25!

Yesterday I visited Central Park’s SummerStage for a free Bombino/Young Fathers show. Fantastic Negrito was the opener. I could not help but reminisce of the last time I was at SummerStage for a Phil and Friends show in May of 2014.

Fantastic Negrito, an up and coming singer from Oakland, CA  was the first act. For the most part, his band was a good African style rock band. Their song “Night has Turned to Day” actually reminded me of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. Similarly to how Sharon  Jones shared her experience of overcoming pancreatic cancer, Fantastic Negrito described how he woke up after a coma.  A few of the band’s songs were unnecessarily too loud, but overall it was a great set. They’d be a welcome addition to a festival yesterday. At the end of the show, Fantastic Negrito shared how just one year ago he was playing for tips at Washington Park in Oakland (not to be confused for Washington Square Park in NY, as I was at first:), he was playing for a large crowd in Central Park on a double bill with Bombino. 
Fantastic Negrito’s Guitarist:  I’m a sucker for Rickenbacker guitars 
Fantastic Negrito and I after his set! 

I honestly thought the second band Young Fathers was pretty lackluster. It is made up  of three singers and one drummer. I am not into hip-hop that much; however it wasn’t just the genre. The band’s volume was way too many octaves high for no reason.

with my chess friends Leif and Nathan (both Fide Masters) in between bands

.I haven’t heard of Bombino before Summerstage announced its line up, but the fact that his biography mentioned Hendrix and Knopfler influences, I figured I’d check his band out!  With a style that bridged African music, jam bands and blues, his band far exceeded my expectations. Bombino started almost every song with a cool riff or solo.  

Bambino’s back up guitarist pulled of some Derek Trucks slide solos! 

Bambino’s bassist with pink strings! 

Bow after the encore! 

Photo op with Bombino after the show! 

Tedeschi Trucks with Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings and Doyle Bramhall II Show Boston What’s up!

On Wednesday, July 22nd I went with my friends Neil, Becky and Jon to see Tedeschi Trucks at Boston’s Blue Hills Pavillion. I was excited as I have not seen the band since its two-night run at Boston’s House of Blues last December. Meanwhile, I saw Derek Trucks as a guest for Clapton at Madison Square Garden in May, where they did a jammin’ “Let it Rain”. For those of you haven’t been, definitely consider going to a show at the Blue Hills Pavillion. Definitely grab food and drinks beforehand as their food and liquor prices are even higher than other venues, but its a pleasant outdoor venue right on the Boston Harbor. Here’s a picture of us in between sets:

You could see me wearing a shirt from Tedeschi Trucks’ free show in Central Park in May. I actually couldn’t make the show but one of my friends was nice enough to mail me it! 
Doyle Bramhall II kicked off the night’s festivities. I was a little surprised as I didn’t realize it was  double bill- Tedeschi Trucks and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, with Doyle being the opener. I expected Sharon Jones to open and Doyle be a guest. Havin been a relatively frequent guest for the Allman Brothers over the years, he’s no stranger! The highlight of his set was a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Angel”. 
Doyle Bramhall II on Guitar

Next up on the agenda was Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings’ set. Midway through their set I remembered I saw them do a free show in Brooklyn a few years back. Sharon Jones is a wild funky vocalist who frequently dances on stage. My mind was all over the place thinking she was a mix of Angus Young with her frequent movement on stage and James Brown. She reminded me of seeing Lee Fields open up for Tedeschi Trucks the second show last December. I was startled when the band did a funky cover of “This Land is Your Land”. To say the least, it was very different from the original song I used to frequently hear in elementary song. 
Tedeschi Trucks opened up with a number from its upcoming record, “The Letter”, a John Cocker cover. The band then went into its last album’s title track “Made up Mind”, when Derek’s infamous slide soloing kicked off. As the band does in almost every show, it played “Midnight in Harlem”; however, this time, there was a little twist with an extra long introduction.  Kofi Burbridge (for those of you that don’t know, yes indeed Oteil Burbridge, The Allman Brothers bassist’s brother) shined on flute during the Mountain Jamesque “Idle Wind”, which lead into an extended drum solo. I experienced a flashback to The Rhythm Devils’ drum solos back in Chicago. 
Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings and Doyle Bramhall II came back on stage for the two song encore, made up of “Tell Mama” and “Sing a Simple Song. It was a totally different funky type of band than your typical Tedeschi Trucks Band. 

Doyle and Derek 

This show conveyed how Tedeschi Trucks has truly become a top tier band over the last few years. It has come along way since I first saw the band at the NJ Performing Arts Center in early 2012. While you could see some Allman Brothers influence on the “Idle Wind” and “The Storm” jams, the band does not rest on anyone else’s laurels. The band’s performance Wednesday night emphasized how it could successfully play blues, rock and funk. Stay tuned for more Tedeschi Trucks reviews as the Beacon run in September!

Fare Thee Well Grateful Dead Shows!!

Prelude to Trip 

It’s my first time writing in the blogosphere in two years. I have returned to share with you all my adventure to Chicago July 3rd to 6th for the three Fare the Well: 50 Years of the Grateful Dead shows! For the past year and half, the remaining Dead members have hinted towards something big for the 50th anniversary and in January the three Chicago shows were announced. Minutes after the announcement, which happened to be when I was in India, I messaged my concert partner-in-crime Neil that we were going and there was no refraining. The day after I returned to the U.S, I went to post office to send in our mail order for us, Neil’s girlfriend Becky and a buddy we met at Peach Festival last year. Throughout February, we were stressed playing the waiting game. Every day I’d go home after work to check the mail, and message the crew that we were safe another day without a rejection letter. A month later, disaster struck as we saw the dreaded rejection letter. However, we got a true miracle when Becky got us tickets on Ticketmaster Day, February 28th. The stress wasn’t over however, as hotel prices were through the roof. However, we luckily found a reasonably priced AirBNB near Wicker Park a few weeks later.

Dead Heads Takeover Chicago

After a two-night visit to a Brandeis friend’s place in Indianapolis July 1-3, I was all set to go to Chicago.

Store in Fountain Square, Indianapolis 

At my friend Wei’s Place before headed to the bus to Chicago!
I was planning on getting some sleep on the bus, but for better or worse, that was not meant to be! I ended up meeting two awesome Dead Heads on the bus and talking to them the majority of a time. When a non- Dead Head asked us what one of the most popular Dead songs, new buddy Greg disagreed with me that Casey Jones was one of the songs he would most likely know. 
As we arrived, us Dead Heads excitedly fist bumped and exchanged contact information. Dead Heads truly took over Chicago that weekend; you could not walk two blocks anywhere in the city without seeing at least one tie-die shirt. Many of the hotels, bars and restaurants displayed Grateful Dead pictures and special menus. I met several Dead Heads on the buses and trains around the city. 
Night 1: July 3rd 

Without further ado,  it’s on to the music, as it has never stopped! After hanging out in the lot for a few hours, we went to our seats to see the show open with “Box of Rain”. Trey Anastasio later lead vocals on “Bertha”. It was  nice to see him highlighted in contrast to the Santa Clara shows where he didn’t solo or sing nearly as much.  Bruce Hornsby than killed the vocals on Fire on the Mountain. Him being one of the only two out of six I’ve never seen live beforehand (along with Mickey Hart), I was impressed. With his piano playing and charismatic voice, he reminded me a lot of Steve Winwood. Bob Weir took out his acoustic guitar, one of two times the whole run, for the “Ripple” encore. The band did not repeat any songs from the Santa Clara shows. 
With my roommates Neil and Becky in the lot! 
Star-Spangled Show on July 4th 
The band did not waste and time to arouse excitement with a “Shakedown Street” opener. The first repeat of the Fare Thee Well run, happened when we got ” Cumberland Blues”. I started to wonder if they’d start repeating a lot of songs, but the rest of the songs for the night have not been played. The longest, most exciting jam of the first set was during Jerry’s “Deal”. As most people expected, they played ” One More Saturday Night” as a final song and ” U.S Blues” for an encore. As the Midnight hour struck, we got fire works to end the 4th and lead into my 25th birthday on the 5th. 
With Greg and his buddy Scoot(with Braves Hat) before the 1st set

Birthday Show on July 5th 

I  heard the first three songs China Cat Sunflower- I Know You Rider- Estimated Prophet outside as I waiting for two girls I met the previous night to get miracle tickets. After a while, I made a tough decision and left them for my friends inside and got in the stadium in time for “Built to Last” (Luckily I found out later, they did ultimately get in!:)). We stood in a camera man’s section and had plenty of space to dance! During “Samson and Delilah”, it was great hearing 69,999 other Dead Heads chanting ” If I had my way, I would tear this whole  building down!” Before the second set, we got a surprise series of fireworks. Well, it wasn’t 100% a surprise for my friends and I as the camera man told us it would happen a few minutes prior but OK. The second set then began with the only other repeat of the whole run, “Truckn”!

What a long, strange trip it really has been! Two other songs that stood out were “Cassidy” and “Althea”. Trey’s solos during “Althea” were more heavy than the ones John Mayer did when he played “Althea” with Weir during the Tonight Show earlier this year. The biggest highlight of the run came during the “Not Fade Away” encore. 30 minutes after the second “Attics of My Life” encore, the fans continued doing the typical clap and singing ” Love is Real, Not Fade Away”, as we walked out of Soldier Field.

With my new friends waiting for them to get miracles!  

Fireworks before the second set!

The aftermath- crowds after the final “Attics of My Life” encore!

I literally could not have had a better 25th birthday weekend than being in Chicago for these three shows. I also got to explore Chicago a bit, seeing a sample of the chess scene, the beach, sculptures, parks and the highly recommended Architecture Tour. 
Agora- a bunch of headless sculptures near Soldiers Field!
Look into My Dreams, Awilda” by Jaume Plens in Millennium Park

The Beam! Look closely you can see your loyal blogger with his phone!

Thanks to Dr. Daaim Shabazz, of The Chess Drum, I knew to visit Starbucks on North Ave for the chess scene! 
My new Dead Head friend Jaimie on the Architecture Boat Cruise: I took an educated guess that she was part of the Grateful Family on line to buy a ticket and I was correct:) 
The Willis Tower and Franklin (AT&T) Tower- an example of modern and post-modern architecture side-by-side! 
However, It was a bittersweet that this would at least on paper be the last hurrah for the Grateful Dead. That said, I am looking forward to seeing Bob Weir and Billy The Kids ( along with Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers) next month at the Peach Festival. I had similar feelings about the final Allman Brothers Beacon run last October, but the Road does truly go on forever. (I’ll also be 6/7 Allman Brothers at Peach!)