The Terrapin Family Band
September 2, 2016
By Gary Blicksilver
Photo Credit: Sharon Budman
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Props out to Paul GENGO for shooting this great video!
I would think Pagans, who almost religiously look to the calendar to move from one season to the next, are probably forever in denial over how the secular world defines summer – that expanse of time between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. But this, as my friends and I have decided, is no ordinary summer. This has been quite literally The Summer of Dead. If nothing else, Dead & Company, and their return to the large format stadium show, has brought back the glory days of summers’ past, and intense interest in their music.
This past Friday I saw the second of a two-night stand of The Terrapin Family Band at Brooklyn Bowl. Presented by Relix, as “Brooklyn is Dead”, summer clearly isn’t “goin’ outa style”. Pagans rejoice!
This Dead-infused collective, sometimes known as Communion, features Ross James on guitar, Grahame Lesh (son of THE Lesh) also on guitar, Jason Crosby on keys, Scott Padden on bass and Alex Koford on drums. For this evening they had some friends with them – guitarist Andy Falco (The Infamous Stringdusters), multi-instrumentalist Jackie Greene, Patrick Dyer Wolf (Goodnight, Texas), Katie Jacoby on violin and of course Elliott Peck sharing her beautiful voice. All ten would take the stage later for the terrific “Cumberland Blues”/“Lovelight” encore!
As advertised, the band opened with “They Love Each Other” and a full set of JGB. Performed were some well known songs like “Deep Elem Blues” and “Mission in the Rain” but also lesser known covers of Dylan’s “Positively 4th Street” and “Senor (Tales of Yankee Power)”. They threw in a beautiful version of The Band’s “Twilight” and closed the half with the Motown classic “How Sweet It Is (To be Loved by You)”.
During the short break, I had the opportunity to check out this very unique concert venue – my first visit here. Brooklyn Bowl, located at 61 Wythe Avenue, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn divides its space roughly in thirds: a 16-lane bowling alley (the “Bowl”), two bars and restaurant area and the event space itself with a capacity of about 600.
I also had some time to try and calculate (probably not the right word) where The Terrapin Family Band fits into the Grateful Dead universe. Just an opinion, but at least on this outing, I heard more Americana and roots-rock than the Psychedelia that I would normally associate with The Dead. Not that they didn’t have their Folk moments (see “Workingman’s Dead”), but the sound tonight was clearly leaning laid back. Either way, a fantastic show in a terrific venue!
The second set opened with what has to rank as one of the strangest versions of “Friend of the Devil”, interpolating “Lithium” by Nirvana, but the crowd danced on regardless. “Mr. Charlie” and “Uncle John’s Band” came next. Patrick Dyer Wolf came out for a fine “Bertha”. During “The Music Never Stopped” the band took things down to a crawl and then ramped it back up, faster than ever. “Cold, Rain & Snow” allowed the band to stretch out and jam. That led to “Scarlet Begonias” and the 2nd set closer “Wharf Rat”.
Throughout the night, the musical guests were coming and going and often switching up who played what – to which the happy crowd said, and to quote the patron saint of the evening, J. Garcia, “let it rock”. With another summer show in the books, the Autumnal Equinox, and with it the promise of cooler weather will have to wait.