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A Little Bit Furthur Than We’ve Gone Before

I have been scratching my head for a while now. If there is a God (and no, I am not trying to stir a debate), he is very pleased with us at the moment.

Hmm, maybe not pleased with all of us, but those immersed in the live music scene are getting what they want. Spring was sprung. Summer was stupendous. Fall was fantastic. Winter will be wondrous. Yes, wondrous.

I have devoted so much time making up for Phish’s five-year hiatus over the summer and fall that I think I forgot about my roots. No, not the ones stabilizing my trees. I am talking about the Grateful Dead. When Phish was dead I spent my free time either rocking with Phil Lesh and Friends, slow dancing to RatDog or getting through those shaky spring shows the Dead put on.

One thing became certain: The music grew old, almost as elderly as the band members themselves. The Dead, at least in my opinion, mailed that spring tour in. It was lackluster and way too expensive. I kept truckin’, however, because I get to see some of the coolest people at Dead shows. If it wasn’t for the awesome scene at each show, I wouldn’t have attended so many.

OK, enough bashing the old guys.

Emerging from the depths of the 1960s, Bob Weir and Phil Lesh have been through it all. They have played more live shows than anyone on the planet. You’d think it would get boring going to see the same guys every night, but right now I am gearing up for Furthur. The band, which features a stellar cast of accomplished musicians, is playing the Oakdale on Friday in Wallingford, CT.

Let’s break it down. Since Jerry Garcia died in 1995, Weir and Lesh have each performed with a revolving cast. They both play Dead tunes. And both have proved they can lead a band. But something has been missing, and it’s apparent what that void is. I think both have strived for guitarists who do not mimic Jerry’s signature tone style. Until now.

John Kadlecik

John Kadlecik, whom we all know as Dark Star Orchestra’s former lead guitarist, has been called upon to lead the strings. Now I have to tell you that this guy sounds EXACTLY like Jerry. If there was a Jerry Garcia University, Kadlecik would be the head professor. He has studied, for years, the ways and means of Garcia and does it justice. He will be standing on stage with Bob and Phil, hopefully taking me through the journey that so many experienced from 1965 to 1995. I, for one, haven’t been this excited for a Dead show in a long time.

A lot of older Heads that I’ve spoken with are mixed on this band. Sure, it’s great that the boys are still playing, but they are having a Jerry clone take the lead guitar. This does not sit well with many people, mainly because they feel that Jerry’s spot can never be filled. Well, I have something for you: I never got to see the Grateful Dead, yet they are my favorite band. Ever. I am going to experience what so many have raved about for years — and I’m not ashamed.

The rest of the band is comprised of the usual suspects. Joe Russo, of the Benevento/Russo Duo, is one of the drummers. RatDog banger Jay Lane will be filling the other kit. Jeff Chimenti, RatDog keyboardist, will be wailing on the Hammond B3.

Back in September, the band played three shows in Oakland. The recordings are magnificent; they sound eerily similar to the Grateful Dead. That’s exactly what I am looking for. They sound fresh, rejuvenated if you will, and are taking their act on the road. This late-fall run is getting the boys ready for an extensive tour beginning in February.

I know I can’t rewind to 1977 and hit up Barton Hall, so this is the closest I can get. There is going to be magic at the Oakdale; Bobby and Phil still know how to rock.

And it’s certain that someone is watching over us and coordinating all of this great live music– he’s a bit overweight, with a snowy beard, a gentle and serene voice and nine and a half crazy fingers.

Fri, 2.05 – Bayfront Park Amphitheatre, Miami, FL
Sat, 2.06 – Hard Rock Live, Orlando, FL
Mon, 2.08 – The Tabernacle, Atlanta, GA
Tue, 2.09 – Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, Asheville, NC
Wed, 2.10 – Bojangles Coliseum, Charlotte, NC
Fri, 2.12 – Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA
Sat, 2.13 – Patriot Ctr at George Mason Univ., Faifax, VA
Sun, 2.14 – Barton Hall @ Cornell Univ. Ithaca, NY
Mon, 2.15 – Stabler Arena @ Lehigh Univ., Bethlehem, PA
Wed, 2.17 – Shea’s Performing Arts Center, Buffalo, NY
Thu, 2.18 – Verizon Wireless Arena, Manchester, NH
Fri, 2.19 – Mullins Center @ Univ of Mass, Amherst, MA
Sat, 2.20 – Utica Auditorium, Utica, NY
Mon, 2.22 – Bob Carpenter Ctr @ Univ of DE, Newark, DE
Tue, 2.23 – Radio City Music Hall, New York, NY
Wed, 2.24 – Radio City Music Hall, New York, NY
Fri, 2.26 – Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT
Sat, 2.27 – Trump Taj Mahal @ Estess Arena, Atlantic City, NJ
Tue, 3.02 – Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, IL
Wed, 3.03 – Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, IL
Mon, 3.08 – Portland Memorial Coliseum, Portland, OR

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