"Pretty lady ain't got no friend till the Candyman comes around again," sang Donna as she smiled and slung aside her flowing gray hair. Wow, this was my first time seeing Donna. I got on the bus in 1981, two years after Donna's departure from the Dead. That revelation struck me halfway into the late show at the Iridium.
Jeff Mattson was on stage with the Donna Jean Godchaux band as they laced into classics like Sugaree, St. Stephen, and Scarlet Begonias. I was thinking Fox, Binghamton, and Cornell. Well it was a little tamer than that, but I can now say I have seen Donna Jean.Donna Jean's vocals have appeared on records for Elvis and Cher—songs cut in Muscle Shoals Alabama. And we all know she has harmonized with the two greatest American bands: The Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia Band. Donna's voice wasn't powerful on this night, no Memorex glass shattering moments, however, she sang lead vocal on 60% of the songs; tasteful performances. Other highlights included ripping versions of Tore Up, New Speedway Boogie, Cosmic Charlie, and the Youngblood's Darkness, Darkness.
For $25, I was able to enjoy both the early and late shows. As far as legendary NYC clubs go, few places are as cozy as the Iridium. During Scarlet Begonias, half of the club had evacuated their tables to dance off to the side. A few dancers briefly relieved their spinning days on tour. I never thought I'd see spinners in the Iridium. And I have finally seen Donna Jean.