Golden Gate Wingmen Sherman Theater Stroudsburg PA March 24 2018 by Ryan O’Malley

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In what has become a tradition, the four piece sidemen super group, Golden Gate Wingmen, recently wrapped up a brief East Coast tour Saturday at the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg, Pa. Comprised of former Dark Star Orchestra and Furthur guitarist John Kadlecik, Billy and the Kids bassist Reed Mathis, RatDog drummer Jay Lane, and RatDog/Dead and Company pianist Jeff Chimenti, the band has been garnering praise for their reworking of songs associated with the Grateful Dead and their contemporaries, with Saturday’s finale being no exception.

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A number that Kadlecik has been performing for years with his self titled band and solo shows, George Harrison’s “Any Road,” kicked off the evening with an upbeat extended run which featured some fine interplay between Kadlecik and Chimenti. With Kadlecik still at the helm, the familiar opening to the early-era Dead favorite “Dupree’s Diamond Blues” was a welcome treat, which again showcased the versatility of Chimenti with a tight solo during the middle jam. Sometimes overlooked, Mathis is a powerhouse on the bass with his low-end often leading the band to different directions.

Arguably the highlight of the first set was the old cowboy standard “Mexicali Blues” which was sung by Mathis. Aside from flawlessly handling the vocals, Mathis’ explorative bass playing gave new life to the song by changing the tempo to an almost mariachi type rhythm complete with isolated bass “bombs” towards the end which showcased how the group can easily veer off track but still remain intact.

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Yet again showcasing the group’s affinity for reinterpretation, Chimenti delivered some reggae-tinged organ riffs which were complimented brilliantly by Kadlecik. The intro almost sounded like Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry,” but was actually the start to a brilliant take on the Brent Mydland Dead gem “We Can Run,” with the reggae flavor being the guide for the duration of the song. Following a tender Mathis led run through the later era Bob Dylan nugget “Ring Them Bells,” a spot on take on the Jerry Garcia Band staple “Rubin and Cherise” blended into a lively “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad,” which brought the exploratory first set to a fiery close.

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A groove heavy “What’s Become of Mary,” a Kadlecik favorite from his time with The Mix, kicked off the second set and had some of the best guitar work of the night. Mathis returned to vocal duty on a drawn out “Estimated Prophet” complete with an avant-garde ending that morphed perfectly into the Dead favorite, “Eyes of the World.”

Chimenti once again had a monstrous solo during “Eyes,” and during the ending coda which turned into a jazz fusion psychedelic opus. The set took a darker turn with the Mathis helmed take on the Bob Dylan juggernaut “Masters of War.” Easily one of Dylan’s more haunting tales, the four-piece made the song somber yet scary-  complete with some almost marching band snare drum rolls and trippy keyboard fills. One of the best surprises of the night, Kadlecik guided the band through a lively interpretation of The Police chestnut “Walking Through Your Footsteps,” which featured some dynamic bass work from Mathis, who incorporates some sort of soprano/octave pedal which gives his bass a unique tone. Following a standard run through the crowd favorite “Terrapin Station,” Kadlecik led the outfit into one of Bob Weir’s signature numbers, the always enjoyable “Sugar Magnolia.” 

While Kadlecik, Lane and Chimenti have years of experience playing the tune, it was Mathis’ first time delving into the number. Once again, the tight musicianship of the group and the members ability to lead each other through a song – even if for the first time – made for a really fun and danceable version, and had Mathis smiling in appreciation after his inaugural performance of the track, which brought the second set to a close. Appropriately enough, the tender beginning of “Brokedown Palace” started and Kadlecik delivered the lyrics with heartfelt grace as the song marked the end of the band’s East Coast tour. As a prime example of the bands dedicated fans, both the crowd and the band sang in unison during the chorus of “fare you well, fare you well, I love you more than words can tell.”  It was the perfect way to end a night that celebrated both the music of the Grateful Dead, and the end of yet another impressive run by the Golden Gate Wingmen. At this point, everyone looks forward to doing the same thing again next year. Set list and audio provided by taper Keith Litzenberger-  full show audio, use arrows to toggle between songs.

Set One:
01 Any Road (JK)
02 Dupree’s Diamond Blues (JK)
03 Mexicali Blues (RM)
04 We Can Run (JK)
05 Ring Them Bells (RM)
06 Rubin And Cherise > (JK)
07 Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad (JK)
Set Two:
01 What’s Become of Mary (JK)
02 Estimated Prophet > (RM)
03 Eyes of the World > (JK)
04 Masters of War > (RM)
05 Walking in your Footsteps > (JK)
06 Terrapin Station > (JK)
07 Sugar Magnolia (JK)
08 Brokedown Palace (JK)

Check out the gallery of photos by Ryan O’Malley here. Check out the Live Music News and Facebook page for updates and announcements.

To submit an article an article or review, or to just say hello hit us at [email protected]