Monday, February 12, 2007
The True Brothers 'Country Gold'
Last night, I attended a show that I really wasn’t looking forward to. I thought my friend Kristina, a Deadhead lite, would enjoy going and possibly hearing some of her favorite Dead tunes. It would be cool for her and quite possibly torture for me.
I am not a Deadhead by any means. Unless you’re Black Sabbath or Metallica, a song over 8 minutes really starts to bore the hell out of me. Jam bands tend to noodle and noodle on their guitars. For me, a guy not “tripping”, I would rather sit on a chair made of razor blades while watching Oprah on television than hear 20 minutes of noodling. The noodling doesn’t impress me unless it’s Ace Frehley strutting around in platform shoes while smoke is pouring out of his Les Paul guitar.
The Dark Star Orchestra was the band we were going to see at the historic Carolina Theatre in downtown Greensboro. The DSO isn’t your typical tribute band… They don’t wear any wigs and they don’t play a collection of hits guaranteed to make everyone happy. Deadheads are a little different. They want more than just a collection of greatest hits, they want the experience. And the DSO brings them just that by recreating a particular show once performed by the Grateful Dead.
The band stepped out on stage and started tuning their instruments. Why didn’t they have folks doing that for them? Where in the hell were the roadies? It was blowing my mind.
They didn’t really chat with the audience and that sort of bothered me. I’m used to the front man yelling “How ya doing, Greensboro? We gonna have a rock n’ roll party tonight!”
You have to throw in the name of the town you’re in for a “cheap pop”. The crowd will always react when a rock star mentions the town he or she is stepping foot in.
The first set was interesting and I found myself tapping my fingers along with the music and tapping my toes. We were sitting on the front row of the balcony where the sound was awesome. I could see folks dancing around below and it reminded me of Honeybee hive activity. The mass was moving, but in that mass each bee had their own purpose and went about it disturbing no one else.
I told Kristina around the 3rd or 4th song that I was actually enjoying the show. The band hadn’t really engaged into any heavy-duty noodling. She leaned over with the most serious look that I had ever seen on her face and said, “You know about the drums in space, right?”
I answered with the affirmative knowing that it was a drum solo, but I had no idea that the damn thing would last longer than Jack Bauer’s day from hell. That was a little painful, but I managed go make it through without throwing myself on the floor, throwing a tantrum like a bored child in the waiting line at the bank. Kristina’s consciousness bailed on her at that point. I had kept her out WAY too late the night before and the boring percussion solo conjured the Sandman to the Carolina Theatre just for her. She found sound sleep on my shoulder as I continued with the show until its conclusion.
I saw lots of folks at the show…. Bill Brady, Darryl (“What the F are you doing at a Dead show, Eugene?”) Craig, Alex and Paul, Erin, Phil “Strawman” (and Richard Gere impersonator) Novak, and Jeri Rowe. We met some new folks like Jeff and Dave. And that’s the thing that put me on edge a little… The crowd was friendly and cordial. It was like everyone were neighbors enjoying themselves as if they were at a cookout. I’m used to crowds that like seeing blood trickle from the mouths of rock stars, out of the heads of professional wrestlers and hockey players. You know the types… People who enjoy violence instead of watching flowers grow.
Folks were chatting up about Dead shows they had attended or even the shows they saw with the DSO. There were friendly side bets being made as to what particular Dead show they were performing. Strawman even told me that the DSO were streaming the show live over the internet for Deadheads around the world.
I’m used to having my rock served to me with explosions and lots of smoke. I love me some hard rock, baby! I sort of hate to admit this, but I had a good time entering a show and a world that I knew nothing about.
By the way, the show Dark Star Orchestra recreated was the Dead from June 15th, 1990 in Mountain View, California. They don’t tell you that until the show is over. Then they brought some chick out and sang “Touch Of Grey” as an added bonus. She whirled around like someone dancing their escape out of a mental ward. Jeri informed me that he is a twirler (I tried to move away slowly) and that some Dead dancers refer to themselves as “Twirling Dervishes”.
I learned a few things about the Dead and myself last night. And it wasn’t all that bad. Before she fell asleep during the drums in space part of the evening, Kristina said that we should see them again when they’re back in town.
You know what? I may just do that.
Here's a pic that I snapped with my cell phone.