Zappa Plays Zappa – 2010-12-17 – Beacon Theater, NY

On this gridlock alert day I ventured into the city on Friday night to catch a Zappa Plays Zappa concert at the Beacon.  The traffic wasn’t too bad and I found a spot at 55th and 10th, right by Kevin’s favorite cheese-steak deli, parked the car and hoofed it up to the Beacon.  It was a exhilarating walk which prepped me for the exhilarating show ahead.

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I was never a big Frank Zappa fan, but I did have several of his albums and was able to digest, appreciate and eventually come to like some of his music.  I was especially fond of Apostrophe and Joe’s Garage but also had Sheik Yerbouti and Live at the Roxy.  Additionally, I do recall being at a Bobby and the Midnights show in the 80s at the Capitol Theater in Passaic sitting right behind the soundboard.  During intermission they were playing music that had a sick lead in it and I turned around to look and saw it was a Zappa bootleg in the cassette player rolling.  I awoke me to his great guitar prowess.  As such, in the post Grateful Dead, MP3, Internet era I have listened and searched out quite a bit of Frank Zappa music in comparison to some other of my nostalgic music from my past.  Much of the Zappa music is still tough to absorb but I have been getting some of it.

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When my brother Jay provided me the opportunity to see Zappa Plays Zappa at the Beacon several months ago, I pounced on the opportunity.  Great googley-moogley!    They were doing Apostrophe.  We had nice seats in the right orchestra around 10 rows back and it was a pretty intimate feeling at the Beacon with the Band.  They opened with a jam highlighting the horns and then started right into doing Apostrophe.  It was really well done and the band was tight and great sounding.  It was very complex music and they plowed through it with confidence and grace.  Dweezil handled the guitar parts all with tremendous proficiency, coming out of his rig like it was built in his DNA.   A very talented shredding guitarist.  After the Apostrophe album they play for about another hour of assorted songs with a nice 30 minute encore.  A very interesting night of ultra-tight music  which is in great contrast to the type of music I am accustomed to in our jamband environment.  The show was really good but I’m not sure I would pounce again at the opportunity to see it when they roll around next year.  Nevertheless, it was an experience that was quite worthwhile.

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2010-11-21 Furthur at Madison Square Garden

I don’t see to many concerts, especially Grateful Dead legacy ones, but my brother Jay got me a ticket to Sunday night’s Furthur show at the Garden, so off I went.  Bruce and I had an easy trip into the city, met Jay for dinner and a couple of beers, and into the Garden we went.  Amazingly enough, we had seats in section 325, row D at the center court, that were Jay’s exact season ticket seats for the Rangers.

The city was tame and so was the Garden in that nothing was sold out or crowded.  Things were in control and civilized. The Garden was half empty but it doesn’t matter, the band it there to play and make music, not to exhilarate the audience.  Everything was working as it was supposed to in 2010.  The band and the lights were right on and modern.  The music has developed into a more sophisticated brand of music that ties together the worlds of the past and the future. Enough of an homage to classic Grateful Dead while providing enough freedom to explore new and future realms.  At times they left us behind in their crazy style of music, but the band kept me as a fan in their rear-view mirror never running too away from me. Always letting catching up with the at the proverbial red light which is a new song, which are few and far between.

Below is the set list and a few notes on reach.

Set 1

  • Truckin’> Disappointed when they did it, vocally seemed meager but jam afterwards was great.  Made me realized the bass/keys stuff going on could be really out there in a very in there type of way.  Impressively and seamlessly switched keys from Truckin’ to Cumberland.
  • Cumberland Blues>
  • Any Road
  • Viola Lee Blues Surprisingly now as out there as one would think which made it hotter
  • Cassidy
  • Eyes of the World >
  • So Many Roads >  Really well sung
  • Going Down The Road Feeling Bad

Set 2: Better than the first set

  • Born Cross-Eyed > It’s embarrassing I thought it was a new Bob song
  • The Wheel > Really well sung and powerful
  • Weather Report Prelude > Part 1 >  Really well done
  • Time > Breathe (reprise) > Powerful and well sung
  • Let It Grow >  This was really hot
  • Unbroken Chain >
  • Morning Dew > This was really well done, they did Jerry and the Garden proud.
  • Playin’ In The Band Thought they would have stopped at the Morning Dew this seemed like a nice added bonus
  • Donor Rap
  • E: Brokedown Palace – Sweetly sung by Bob and had a great lead, nice encore

It took some pictures during the show and they aren’t good but if you want to look at them, take a look.  I haven’t figured out the concert photo thing yet but I am still trying.  Another cool thing is that I was able to stream video during the show via U-Stream and I had 2 viewers including Scott Gibson, so I believe.

Scott went to the show the night before and below are a couple of the videos he shot on Saturday night.

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Furthur Show – 2010-06-24 – Coney Island

Lisa and Kathy

Until his recent marriage his new wife Lisa, my younger cousin Seth never really knew I was a Deadhead.  Going to his wedding brought this all to light and we took this opportunity to see the Furthur show together at Coney Island.  The plans were that Kathy and I were going to meet Seth at the show, pick up our tickets and enjoy the show with Seth and Lisa.  Even more so than Kathy, Lisa is new to the whole Dead thing.

To view pictures I took from the show you can go to my Picasa Web Album at the link below:

Unfortunately there was an issue and to put it succinctly in a few words; Seth, Saratoga, Phish, stomach virus, hospital, no show for Seth. Lisa drives me tickets from her home in Great Neck. Stays for first set and goes home to the whole in sickness in in health blah, blah, blah thing.  It was nice to get to know Lisa for the few moments we had together but it was too bad Seth wasn’t there to show her the ropes like I couldn’t. I couldn’t even show Kathy the ropes at this venue.

Like Kathy, Lisa is pretty petite so being on a general admission floor is tough to deal with.  We hung out on the side for the first set.  Not a real good viewing angle so my pictures were pretty tough to come by.  It was a tiring show, no where really to sit at all.  The floor was damp and yucky, littered with plastic beer and water bottles, so we were standing up all night.  For the second set we strolled to the middle and found the Scott and Larry’s contingent with Rob, Miriam, Andrew, et al.

We hung with these guys for most of the jammy second set until the density began to cave in on us.  Scott gave a tremendous effort in trying to keep it away but the mass is the mass.  By the beginning of the Terrapin we decided to seek cooler grounds.  We hung out in the less dense side area for the closing Terrapin, the full album version, which happened to be great like many of the other songs of the night.  An impressive showing.

A long evening after a few weeks of constant car rides, battling city traffic, so this is my excuse for leaving at the encore.  Too bad, it happened to be a Brokedown which is one of Kathy’s favorite songs.  She knows it well from the many great Ollabele renditions.   We we hung out outside the stadium to listen to an extremely reverberated Brokedown watching fireworks as we strolled down the Boardwalk.  Actually we scampered trying to beat everyone to the Nathan’s French fries.  In the end, those took longer than they were worth considering they were fresh and hot.  I failed to mention the Nathan’s dogs with kraut and mustard we had with our orange-aide before the show where we met up with Steven Goldstein who was waiting for my brother Jay who was arriving on the subway with the Warriors.  Like Lisa, almost like us, Jay underestimated the hell it is getting to a Deadshow close to show time on a Saturday night.  Even if it is New Millennium Dead.

I had a good time, regret Lisa and Seth could be there and seats would have made the experience more enjoyable.  For the moments in the second set especially when the stage was visible the music was strong and powerful and sounded great.  Bob and Phil still have it going, and the other 3 as well as the 2 backup singers all sounded great to generate some really hot music.  Lots of Bob songs, many in a row.  I guess I can remember that for Deadstein jams when I need to whip it out of my assinal as they say.

The Fab Faux Queens College 11-07-09

Dead Show – 2009-04-29 – Izod Center

dcc_4390This is the end of the line for Kathy and I and what an enjoyable little set of 4 shows this was.  I haven’t had this type of experience since the JGB tour of Fall 1993.  That is 16 years ago.

Let’s start with some people I may have seen tonight.  First I saw my Bother Jay in the parking lot.  It was funny cause Kathy and I were discussing whether or not Shakedown Street was in the same parking lot as the previous night and looking around I said that it is because this is where we ran into Jay last night.  It was at that precise moment I saw Jay standing there tonight eating a chicken quessadilla.  I grabbed a grilled chicken wrap from some Swine Flu Carrying Shakedown Street vendor and then we headed inside the show.


dcc_4401_edited-1First in Shakedown Street I saw Bruce, the drummer from Williamsburg, that Larry Brent and I first jammed with with in his art studio/apartment  prior to us forming Deadstein in 1990.  I haven’t seen him since 1990 and we were both talking about how we both still have tapes of those jams. Finally, at halftime I saw Jack Buonocore and Rob the keyboardist.  Jack is the guy I jam with who has the Tiger clone from Resurrection Guitars.

Kathy and I were in basically the same seat as yesterday’s show but one section closer to the stage, still row 18 (Section 125).  The arena was empty again when the lights went out.  It reminds me of  Spinal Tap when no one came out to the end of their tour. While I type in jest I would hope that for heaven’s sake they realize they have to lower the ticket prices to fill the arenas.  While browsing vendor wares after yesterday’s show they all asked, “How was the show?”


This is both freaky and gay.
This is both freaky and gay.


We opened with the Touch of Grey which was well done and quick.  I don’t recall what the lead was like.  I was probably taking pictures.  Pride of C ucomonga was next and as I told Kathy I am embarrassed to say that  I should know the song, but I had no clue.  I wasn’t until halftime that I found out what song it was.  Nevertheless it was well done and had a significant jam in it that sound Other One-esque.



Much like last night, the band was tight and played with confidence without losing too much energy at parts.  The Crazy Finger was good with Bob and Warren trading verses.  Warren sounded great singing having no problem emulating Jerry’s nuances while Bob was marginal doing his best to make sure he didn’t sound like Jerry. The  Harmonies were good and jam out of it was pretty good.

The Music was not all that good.  The singing part of the song was fair at best.  Warren never really took advantage of the lead potential of the song and laid back encouraging Branford to step to the plate.  Unfortunately, he didn’t take advantage of the situation either and it seemed like a wasted exercise needed Bob to add some useless voacal part at the part in the the lead where they should have been rocking.  It wasn’t badly played, but you recall how great the song was with as much potential as any other Dead song.  Oh well. It is what it is.


The Deal on the other hand was pretty good.  The Branford lead during the song was really great. He has a lot of Jerry in his musical expressions.  Days Between was soulful and sweet but was a lot of slow droning to deal with.  It was well done and a serious effort at self contained quality music but it is easy to get bored by it.   Not the bands fault, it is the song and without Jerry there to give it life it is like death.

Casey Jones broke out of the Days Between to rock to close the set.  In sunnary, the first set had lot of tight songs and they were easy to like.  Had fun and was eager to hear the second set.

Halftime Wharf Rat circle. I got some time to hear your story.

Halftime Wharf Rat circle. I got some time to hear your story.

dcc_4505Halftime we did a lap around the arena.  I got a Carvel cone while Kathy got the popcorn.  We then ran into Jack Buonocore and Rob and spoke to them for a while.  We finished the lap and headed back to our seats for the second set.

To open the second set, Sitting onto of the World was great.It may have been the best song of the night.  The piano, the beat, the hotness, the Branford/guitar exchanges, it all worked.

Doin that Rag was sung by Phil and was true to the song.  Branford was only there for the ending jam which was pretty good.  I liked Warrens Mu-Tron sound.  Speaking of which, I didn’t like it at Albany during the West LA but my seat at the back of the audience help even out those peaky sounds and it sounded right on.  One thing of Warren’s I haven’t been liking is his extensive use of a leslie effect.  Eventough he has fine control over the thing, it is on way too much.



Ramble on Rose had the crowd singing with Bob and Warren trading off verses.  They spaced into the Terrapin and I liked what Branford was doing.  He was playing those cool, hot guitar riffs like Jerry played on the album.  They played half the Terrapin(Lady in a fan) and went into drums.  I did not like Bob’s singing here.  He either sang to quickly or only sang the first half of a sentence, letting the audience complete the rest.  It wasn’t good.

Following the space jam after Lady in a Fan, Branford stayed out with the keyboardist during the beginning of drums and played some really interesting stuff.  He did this the previous night and it was really cool on both occassions.  I didn’t enjoy Drums this night as much as I did the previous night.


dcc_4574_edited-1Space into Wheel is usually a nice sounding thing and tonight was no different.  With Branford chirping in allthe place, it was nice.  Wheel lost some energy toward the end when they created a vocal jam where it used to not have one but it was good and then they transitioned into and finished the Terrapin.  I wasn’t thrill with how Bob sang this part of  Terrapin either.  I was hoping to here the end of the album version of Terrapin, since Branford was teasing those notes but it didn’t come.  I Know You Rider was pretty darn hot as I recall.  They played a China Cat at the Garden without a Rider so maybe this counts as a long sandwich.

While Women are Smarter was well done, It’s too meaningless as a way to end my experience with the four shows as an encore.



Dead Show – 2009-04-28 – Izod Center

dcc_3776After seeing two weekend shows, one in Albany and one at the Garden, this series of two shows at the Byrne, I mean Izod Center, give the real feeling of being back on tour since I am leaving from work and going back to work in the morning.

dcc_3786_edited-1It was a hot beautiful day and I was surprised that arriving at 6:30 for a 7:30 show had no traffic associated with it. Considering the pretzel traffic patterns at the Meadowlands due to all the construction with the new Giants Stadium and Xanadu.

Jay got a ticket and went to the show with Bruce and he telephoned to tell us to try to bribe a traffic attendant to get into a lot on the Arena side of Route 120. This didn’t work but what happened is that while parking by the Stadium I saw Steve Goldstein, from SUNY Albany who I have seen for 20 years but we are Facebook friends.  That was cool to see him and experience how our friendship has endured a bit vis-a-vis the use of Facebook.  He looks the same and told me he was Mayor of Springfield, NJ for 2 years.







Kathy and I said good-bye to Goldie and took the update tunnel to the Arena. We headed on down to Shakedown Street and it was much more peaceful and accessible than Albany’s scene. We didn’t buy anything there but we did run into Jay and Bruce. We did a lap with them and headed into the show.


Ready for the Show, too bad they only sold half the tickets.

Ready for the Show, too bad they only sold half the tickets.

I got my camera in although there was a big sign that said no cameras so after that I was psyched. I didn’t want to have to go back through the tunnel to the car. We had seats in the back corner, 18th Row (Section 126) which were far but sonically more pleasing than sitting on the side of the stage like we did at the previous shows. By the end of the first set we found comfortable seats 4 rows off the floor in our section. I sounded much sweeter down there.


So we got there 10 minutes before the light went down and 20 minutes before the show.  One thing you noticed is they didn’t see any upper level seats in the rear and it was curtained off.  A little weird but what do you expect at $100 a ticket.  I bet they only sold O half of the capacity of that arena.  Even the promise of Branford Marsalis didn’t sell additional ticket.


They opened with a US Blues and it was a stronger opening than the other nights.  It was quick and to the point and Bob’s vocal sounded good.  Scarlet was next and Warren sang well also and it was relatively true to classic Grateful Dead.  They ended the Scarlet as a solo song, like 1974 but immediately started a sprightly Fire on the Mountain.  At that moment Branford unassumingly walked onto stage.  The Fire Groove was assertive and Branford and Warren confidently started trading Fire riff with each other.  It was very impressing from the get-go.  Maybe some of the best Branford stuff of the night.


I notice from the US Blues the grooves were tighter and more comfortable than the other nights.  They seemed for certain in their decisions.  An exception to this was the Estimated lead where their bastardization of it didn’t work.   Anyway, the music was tight and Branford was definately helping the cause a lot.


The music was settle into its grooves nicely and the sound in the arena was good.  They went into the Birdsong, which seemed predictable, and it sounded like Branford and the Dead.  He really understands it and plays along with and challenges all the others.  We had High Time and Lovelight to close the first set.  The Lovelight had some nice give and take once again between Warren and Branford.  From my far seat Warren looks like Jerry quite a bit.

Giant sections of the arena were closed since they did not sell enoguh tickets.

Giant sections of the arena were closed since they did not sell enoguh tickets.

dcc_4001_edited-1Halftime we found Bruce and Jay and had a Carvel.

  • New Potato Caboose – Good
  • Estimated Prophet – Good start, didn’t like the lead, that lost all it’s energy that is a beautiful transition.
  • Milestones – This was great.  Every one was going nuts.  May have been the best thing of the four shows I saw. Branford took a super hot long lead that was crazy, groovy, wild and just hot.  Warren followed him and did the same thing.  It really was great.  The drummers, Phil and Bob on the other hand gave me sounds like Stronger Than Dirt Milking the Turkey that so complimented the lead players.  This was my favorite Phil section of the 4 shows.
  • Drums with Branford – This was also a great thing.  The keyboards played a wacky vocal sample alongside Branford flutter out notes next to him.  Accompanying this was drums with Micky playing his wacky beam.  It was cool stuff. The sound of drums was also the best of the 4 shows I saw.
  • dcc_4002_edited-1Space – Not that enjoyable without Jerry playing his Charlie Brown teacher sounds.
  • Dear Mr. Fantasy – I was excited when I heard this and it sounded good from the get-go, the vocals were nice but when it was time for the lead I though Warren was way too contained.  It was disappointing.  It was like the ball was “T-ed” up for him and he didn’t even swing.  It felt like a lost opportunity.
  • Dark Star – In many respects after all the space you hear, the Dark Star is superfluous.  Nevertheless it was well done and Phil only sang the second verse.
  • Eyes of the World – It’s classic for Branford.  Two days later at this point and I’m writing up these notes and nothing in my mind is there about the Eyes.  Oh well.  I guess it was no Englishtown.
  • Franklins Tower



Got home by 12:45 after spending some time on Shakedown Street after the show.  My back and legs were tired, but I had to unload the camera, charge batteries and attempt to blog some thoughts down, but still I had to go to work the next day.  IT’s like being on tour and it is invigorating.



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