Sunday, July 25, 2010


7-23-10 Dickey Betts Band

You're my bkue sky, you're my sunny day, Lord you know it makes high when you turn your love my way, an unforgetable chorus, unless you happen to be the author. Dicky botched that which is like singing the wrong words during Happy Birthday. I was expecting an evening of raging Cajun jams, but by and by, it was an obstacle course for DBB (Dickey Betts Band). Around 1,000 diciples watched Dickey grind through Allman Brothers classics at my favorite little church on the outskirts of Central Park.

Lazy horses eyed me as I crossed town by foot - East to West. Barbaric humidity schvitzed my shirt by the time I arived at the venue simply called the Concert Hall, on the corner of West 64th Street. At show time, tickets for Dickey were still available for $65. I was thinking forty bucks. My friend Puca scored a freebie from a roadie. I resorted to chicanery. I slid by a ticket scanning lady with a used ticket, pretty smile and a positive attitude.

Dickey's guitar tone was rattlesnake nasty, although solos were cut short as he winced in pain -something was out of whack. After a half-dozen songs, Dickey announced a break to tend to those pesky blisters. I envisioned a Rocky scene backstage: Dickey's popping pills and swigging Jack while his success coach is burning blisters off with a blow torch. I also feared somebody would throw out the white towel, a painful prospect for those who laid out sixty-five bucks.

DBB returned with the Holy Grail, "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed." My excitement disapated like air from a poorly tied baloon as the jams flopped. During the drum interlude, Dickey disppeared for more blister treatment.
I took a leak and heard this bathroom banter:

"Yo man, Dickey sucks tonight, what's wrong with him," said the Infidel.
"Ya'll don't know what ya talkin bout. Dickey is sixty-seven, A god damn legend," said the Loyalist.
"He's wasted, drunk off his ass. I paid sixty-five bucks for this," said the Infidel.
"You're nuts!" said the Loyalist. "Five years from now when Dickey is no longer with us you would be crying about how you wish you was here."

And so the great debate raged.

Dickey rallied on the last two set numbers, whaling on a thouroughly explored "Jessica." The looping jam was as melodic as it was mammoth. Betts motioned to the Greg Allman clone that he couldn't hear any keyboards. The sound issue was straightened out, and by and by, the audience finally heard some piano. Dickey rocked out a refuse-to-die ending making this a sensational performance, worth at least twenty beans. Everybody in church was howling, dancing and clapping in the pews.

The "Ramblin' Man" encore was alright, Dickey's vocals were understated most of the night. The concert was fine entertainment. I'd rather hear bits of authentic genius than a hodgepodge of immitation. I headed East, walking past the sweaty horses and almost missed the Uptown Six Train. I couldn't pay for my Metrocard in time, and the station was hotter than the insides of a freshly baked pie - waiting was not an option. With the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in one hand, I vaulted over the turnstile like an East German gymnast. It was my Olympic debut and first public crime since 1976 when I was busted for stealing a Boston 8-track tape from Korvettes. This time I safely escaped on the Six Train. I grabbed a slice of eggplant pizza for the walk home, listened to "Elizabeth Reed" and passed out to "Whipping Post" from the Fillmore.

PS: Live "Blue Sky" sounds like "Franklin's Tower"

Tuesday, July 6, 2010




Leaving New Orleans on the Tuesday following Jazzfest, Aaron Neville was standing in line in front of me going through the security checkpoint for Continental. His identity was unmistakable: rippling thick muscles popping out of an undersized t-shirt, cap on backwards and the second most famous facial mole (Cindy Crawford #1). I couldn't think of anything to say to him. The Nevilles were the closing act at Jazzfest, but I ditched them to see Wayne Shorter who was honking sax in the jazz tent at the same time. Five minutes passed, he went through the checkpoint on the left, I stripped off my belt and sneakers for the guards on the right.

I went to the airport bodega to score Mentos. This time Aaron was on line behind me - he was purchasing a local paper, People Magazine and gum. I was speechless. He was wearing a Saints cap, so I though about striking up a Super Bowl conversation, but decided against it. I boarded my flight to Newark and Who Dat lounging in the First Class section. I smiled at Aaron and flashed him a piece sign. He laughed. I was little worried, the odds of a plane crashing are much higher if a rock star is aboard. Anyway, here's a few highlights from my week.

1. Van Morrison...He won over the greatest hits crowd early with Brown Eyed Girl in the second hole. The surly Belfast balladeer also pleased with lush versions of Moondance and Have I Told You Lately. He assembled one of his hottest bands and Van showed off his dexterity by blowing sax and harp, picking guitar leads and plunking keyboard. I cried lunatic tears when he played Fair Play from Veedon Fleece. It was the first time Van performed that in the twenty times I seen him. A set ending Ballerina and St. James Infirmary were the other keepers. He had the voodoo and mojo flowing.

2. Wayne Shorter...Each note from Wayne was emotional and smooth, he's the best saxman alive. He still has a youthful glow, he looks like Miles circa 1967. His quartet with Blades, Perez and Patitucci was the best I've ever seen. Seating inside the jazz tent was scarce, so I spent half the show standing by a garbage can to the right of the stage. I went up to the photographers pit to get a snapshot and a lady vacated her front row seat and I pounced on it. What a Sunday it was, Van>Shorter front row.

3. Zydeco...Accordions, washboards and violins - a zesty Cajun treat. All the bands on the Fais Do Do Stage got down to the nitty gritty. The small crowds in front of the bait shack were dancing, spinning and slugging cans of brew. I brought some Zydeco music home with me, I'm thinking about taking accordion lessons. 4.Jam bands...Widespread Panic whaled weird and wide for three hours. Warren Haynes and Government Mule did a nice job before WSP. A snuck a peak at Steve Martin's bluegrass band and wasn't all that impressed. I'd rather see him blow up party balloon animals
5. Food...As always the grub was good and plentiful. By 3PM on Sunday I ate clams, a shrimp po' boy, fried chicken and jambalya - out of control.


  In honor of the anniversary of Music Mountain, here’s chapter two from my latest work, The Grateful Pilgrimage: Time Travel with the Dea...