031615 Phil & Friends, Port Chester, NY

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March 16th, 2015 was the second of a four-night run (over five days) of Phil Lesh & Friends shows at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY.  I was only attending the first two, and as usual I was pretty happy to be in the same room as Phil Lesh.

I’ve never gotten the vibe that he was the coolest or nicest guy in the world (in fact the only time I ever spoke to the man he was notably curt) but the creative and, for lack of a better word: magic things he pulls out of my favourite rock instrument are invariably worthy of my attendance, my attention, and my praise.  

It all started at one of my first Grateful Dead concerts.  In a fit of boredom (likely at the hands of a Vince Welnick song) my ear latched on to the bass lines embedded within the mesh of sound and my musical interest and curiosity were instantly reinvigorated.  I’ve done a lot of listening since that moment and my appreciation for Phil’s bass playing (and bass playing in general) has only grown.

The bass drives jamband music.  This fact began with Phil Lesh and the Grateful Dead and it remains so.  This is probably the reason why Phish is the undisputed champion of the genre today.

Then there are the guitar players.  For this show the two six-stringers were Warren Haynes and Eric Krasno.  And y’know, while I was a very big fan of Allen Woody-era Gov’t Mule and Warren’s great work in that band, it occurs to me that whenever I see him onstage next to another guitarist I always prefer the other guy.  It was always that way in The Allman Brothers, whether the other guy was Dickey Betts or Derek Trucks, and it was certainly the case for these two shows.  It was in the Capitol Theatre where I first really gained an appreciation for Eric Krasno’s guitar work and after two nights of hearing him trade off with Warren Haynes I liked the guy even more.

But of course if things got especially trying or tedious in the treble department there was always the great Phil Lesh and his subtle thunder to focus in on.  Dear Mr. Fantasy, Into The Mystic, Help/Slip/Franklins with an Uncle John’s Band thrown in, plus a whole lot of glorious jamming.  Frankly, the songs don’t hardly even matter to me – though I do love to hear Phil cover Van Morrison – it’s all about the jamming.

Though I gotta say the Stella Blue encore was a pretty nice template for the last jam of the night.  Great band, great music, great venue, great googly-moogly. 

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