On a night when local hockey team, the New York Rangers, commenced the Stanley Cup Final, participatory democracy organization HeadCount’s 10th Anniversary Benefit took place at Brooklyn Bowl on June 4th in front of a rabid and loyal crowd at Brooklyn Bowl in New York City and delivered their own litany of all-stars.
In an era of tough decisions encountered daily that affect our lives, it is more important than ever to heed a voice and choose leaders that represent one’s views best. Headcount facilitates this process. HeadCount is a Nonpartisan Organization that works with musicians to promote participation in Democracy. “We stage voter registration drives at concerts and run programs that translate the power of music into real action. By reaching young people and music fans where they already are – at concerts and online – we make civic participation easy and fun.”
Bobby brought the goods. With his cohorts in RatDog: Jay Lane (drums), Robin Sylvester (bass), Jeff Chimenti (keyboards), Rob Wasserman (bass) and Steve Kimock (guitar), the band shared an exquisite and professional showcase. The set started with a fiery rendition of “Hell in a Bucket” that contained an occasional outburst of vocal energy from Weir while reaching a crescendo with his patented falsetto during, “ride ride, at least I’m enjoying the ride.” It was one of those rare moments where it felt familiar. It may not be Spectrum 1987, but the moment demonstrated that he hadn’t lost his powerful touch and has many more years of touring to come.
Other highlights included a “Queen Jane” full of moxie and grit and could only leave one reminiscing on this night that it was recently dedicated by Weir to the Headcount Director of Artist Relations, Jane Henderson, who suffered a serious injury in the SXSW accident but was back at work at the venue. Patrons who paid top dollar to contribute to the worthy cause danced at the partition on the right of the venue near the bouncing bowling lanes as the disco ball spinned in the middle of the bustling venue as the bevy of sit-ins began.
Those not in attendance were glued to their screens as a free web cast was offered from tourgigs.com. John Popper shared his bluesy roots by contributing to a fiery version of Willie Dixon’s “Little Red Rooster.” Any Deadhead will tell you that one of the reasons why they love touring so much with the Dead is the ability to fervently sing along to the vast and varied song catalog. The energy was palpable when Weir sang, “Just like New York City” towards the beginning of “Ramble on Rose.” Then Weir led the band through the poignant and popular Jerry Garcia Band classic, “Mission in the Rain.”
The second set commenced with a scorching take on “Shakedown Street”, the well-known disco jam that inspired the first true danceathon of the evening and was buoyed by (Headcount co-chair) Marc Brownstein’s (of the Disco Biscuits) appearance and thick back beat on the bass. The jam juggernaut then switched it up by not playing the customary “Help>Slip>Franklins” but rather a beautifully segued “Help on the Way>Slipknot>Sugaree” with Alecia Chakour leading soulful lead vocals reminiscent of the sound Joan Osborne once provided and Brendan Bayliss from Umphrey’s McGee taking over for a raucous lead guitar.
The highlight for many was the mesmerizing guitar work delivered by Eric Krasno Lettuce/Soulive) who added spice to one of the Dead’s most popular and contagious tunes, “Eyes of the World.” An incendiary version of the politically themed, “Throwing Stones” was inspired by the masterful guitar work of Steve Kimock. Kimock is an exemplary addition to this incarnation and adds the proper tone throughout. People may forget that Kimock was the first to “replace” Garcia in the band for the first The Other Ones Tour and for good reason. His tone and style are impeccable and despite all-star talent around him on the axe, he remains the coolest person in the room. He provided a blistering guitar solo during the Barlow-penned, “Throwin’ Stones.” The brass musings of the Shady Horns provided an exquisite layer of sound for a rousing “Mexicali Blues.” Surprise guest, Nels Cline of Wilco and numerous other projects, stormed the stage for two encores including a memorable “Franklin’s Tower.”
Although Weir had flubbed a few lyrics on this night, which is the norm these days, he was on point and to the fans delight; their hero delivered an impeccable performance. Many were inspired by the professional musicianship on this night and were subtlety reminded why voting is such an integral part of solid and informed citizenship.
Set I: Hell in a Bucket, Queen Jane, Money for Gasoline, Little Red Rooster (ft. John Popper),
Ramble on Rose, Mission in the Rain, Throwin’ Stones Set II: Shakedown Street (ft. Brownstein + Chakour), Bertha (ft. Brownstein + Chakour), Help On the Way (ft. Bayliss), Slipknot (ft. Bayliss), Sugaree (ft. Bayliss + Chakour), Mexicali Blues (ft. Shady Horns),Eyes of the World (ft. Krasno, Chakour + Shady Horns), Dear Prudence (ft. Krasno, Chakour + Shady Horns), Not Fade Away (ft. Krasno, Chakour + Shady Horns) Encore: Franklin’s Tower (ft. Nels Cline), Turn On Your Lovelight (ft. Nels Cline)
Photos by Greg Horowitz/Creative Solutions Music