Back in 1995, I got a call from my buddy Kevin inviting me to go to a Dead show. He was leaving in about an hour, and ended up with an extra ticket somehow. Never having been to a show, he wanted to treat me to my first experience. Two problems 1. I was still in high school, and therefore under my parents’ command, and 2. I was about to leave for my step-brother’s 23rd birthday party. I called my father, who was severely disappointed that I would even ask to go. Regretfully, when Kevin rolled in to my driveway, I had to tell him to go without me. It was a sad day for me, but I had hopes of going to see them once I got to college. Well, Jerry then passed away that August, just a few weeks before I started my first year of college at the University of Kentucky. Damn!
Fast forward almost exactly 15 years, and my buddy Dan invited me to go to Furthur. I was so excited to see they were gracing the midwest with a stop in Columbus. I would have to coordinate and manipulate plans and cars and care for children, but I was FOR SURE going to Furthur. I drove overnight from Oconomowoc, Wisconsin to Sylvania, Ohio, and then tried my best to sleep in on Friday. I could not sleep too late. I was giddy with anticipation. I really wanted to hear “Not Fade Away,” but didn’t call it because nobody ever plays what I call. (In fact, if you don’t want to hear a song, give me a shout, and I will go ahead and call it for you to ensure that they don’t play it.)
We got to the lot, where I found some phamiliar phaces, hung out, and saw scores of people looking for their miracles. Lifestyle Communities Outdoor Ampitheater only holds about 4500, and there were easily over 5000 crowding the gates to get in. Needless to say, I was pleased to have a ticket to this sold out show. Lifestyle is a pretty cool venue. They have the stage on a really big Lazy Susan, so you can turn the stage around, and during the winter months, Voila! You have an indoor theater. They do, however have a strict NO outside food or beverage rule. This includes sealed water bottles, although the street venders will tell you differently.
We shuffled to the tickets gate, drank our water real fast form the vender who told us we would be able to take it in, and found a place on the hill. With the sun setting behind us, and the band’s minions setting up, we eagerly awaited. Several guitars were set up, but my favorite one was the bright pink one that Bob Weir would play. Bob Weir, Phil Lesh (both original members of the Grateful Dead), John Kladecik (of Dark Star Orchestra), Jeff Chimenti (of Ratdog), and Joe Russo (of Benevento/Russo Duo) create Furthur, a band putting a new spin on some Dead music. Jeff Pehrson and Sunshine Becker accompanied the boys with back up vocals.
As soon as the boys strummed the first note of “After Midnight,” I felt as though retribution had been made for missing The Grateful Dead some 15 summers past. The rest of the first set was dead on, and it was great to sing along with songs that remind me of a time when all I needed was a little gas money.
Set 1: After Midnight > Hell In A Bucket, Loser, Brown Eyed Women, Liberty, Tom Thumb Blues, Comes A Time > Midnight Hour
Set 2: Scarlet Begonias > Two Djinn > Wharf Rat > Shakedown Street > King Solomans Marbles, Let It Grow, Standing On The Moon, Not Fade Away, E: Touch Of Grey
I loved that they wrapped up set one with “Midnight Hour.” It really brought it full circle, from midnight to midnight.
Two words come to mind when they opened up their second set with “Scarlet Begonias”; goose pimples. I had them all over, and may have shed a little happy tear. And the happy, I love everyone here, never want to leave this feeling continued on through the entire second set. John Kladecik has an incredibly sweet and “Jerry” sounding voice. At some point during “King Solomans Marbles,” we were given a side show, some Fourth of July firewords in Downtown Columbus. Great light show to the side.
Just as “Standing on the Moon” was wrapping up, my heart sank…no “Not Fade Away,” and I was sure that was the end of their jam. And, then, they made some adjustments, started strumming, and I recognized the opening chords, getting me all kinds of goose pimply again. Everyone shouted every word as though they were declaring their mission statements. It was a wonderfully perfect moment. I couldn’t stop smiling. And, as they ended, the crowd couldn’t stop. We chanted “Our love for you will not fade away” (clap, clap, clap, clap-clap). And, FINALLY, they came back out and threw us “Touch of Grey.” Yes, “Touch of Grey” was their MTV song, but I don’t care…I freaking LOVE that song, and sang along every word. I say that it was popular for a reason.
The boys wrapped arms around each other, came center stage, and took a bow. I smiled all the way to the car. And, was excited to smile some more since we were going to an after show.
All around Ohio and Kentucky areas, an infamous trash grass band puts on a killer after show. Rumpke Mountain Boys are known to play until the wee hours of the morning. There are usually fliers handed out at the show. If you ever see them, grab one, and go. They are awesome.
I only made it until about 1 am, but it was nice to see the boys and hear a few of their songs. They played one of my favorite Jerry Garcia Band jams, “Ain’t No Bread in the Breadbox.” It was a nice wrap up to the evening.