Jam Cruise Journals: Letter to 16-Year-Old Scotty B

Let’s get back to that God Street Wine on a boat show I was telling you about. You walked into the Teatro Carlo Felice on January 5, 2011 to find a small but zealous group of Winos. A fine gentleman named Cartelli saved you a spot directly in front of the band and it freaked you out a bit to be so close to these guys you interviewed, but you made it through.

[Photos by Adam Kaufman]

Princess Henrietta opened and the feisty fans up front went ballistic. The band vamped before the intro allowing Lo to banter about the conditions that led GSW to play on the boat. Henrietta smoked and was followed by a song you won’t really like for a while but will eventually come around on – R U 4 Real? I’ll let you know right now, you don’t have to worry about God Street becoming an MTV band like the Spin Doctors, so don’t waste any energy on those thoughts.

Sorry, back to last night’s show, Fortress of Solitude was a slow burn while Cheap Utah Blues still has the fire each time through. Diana had a nice little jam tacked onto the end during which time Bobby came out. Each of the band member’s faces had these goofy grins that they couldn’t hide no matter how much they tried. Weir came out for four songs, both leading and singing each of the tunes. A reggaefied Book of Rules was groovy as fuck thanks to Bevo’s organ fills and Tomo’s deep-in-the-pocket performance.

Once Bobby took the stage the crowd filled up substantially. A pretty version of Dark Hollow followed, which showed off the tight harmonies that were always a vital component of GSW’s sound. What a fine choice, if I must say so myself. Race Is On got the biggest reaction both from the crowd and yourself. Once Jerry died (oops, sorry, hate to break it to you this way), Bobby would sit in with bands all the time but he didn’t always seem into it. Last night, Mr. Weir sang from his soul and played with conviction, which was much appreciated by both the fans and the band members. Let’s not forget each of these guys were into the Dead and Tomo even went on tour at points, this was a shining moment for God Street Wine.

Dear Prudence was the final song of the sit-in and perhaps the best. Bob isn’t exactly know for his ability to hit high notes, but he nailed Prudence. Aaron’s solo was pretty badass and he even traded licks with Weir. After four songs and five handshakes Bobby went on his way as the Winos in the crowd shook their heads in disbelief.

As great as the stuff with Bobby was, it was the show’s next sequence that blew your mind. An intense Feel The Pressure segued into the reggae-tinged Driving West. Throughout those two tunes and the Mile By Mile, Epiphany and When She Go that followed, Lo and Aaron’s solos were absolute fire. Epiphany’s nautical references received big cheers from the 70 or so Winos still left in the theater at that point and last July’s trend of extremely limited flubs continued. I talked to a guy who had never seen the band before and knew nothing about GSW. He was flabbergasted when I explained the backstory and how little the guys had actually played and rehearsed together over the previous 11 years.

When Better Than You started, you took your one chance to freshen up and ran up the stairs to your room. The great part about this Jam Cruise thing – you were able to use the bathroom in your cabin and change into your pajamas in time to return before the end of Better That You. No disrespect to Aaron’s tune, but it doesn’t get much better than rocking out to God Street Wine at 3 in the morning wearing pajamas.

The last song sequence – Waiting For The Tide -> Hellfire -> If I Can Dream – was no joke either. Speaking of nautical references, Waiting For The Tide hit home as the tide rose around us. I knew there was only a few minutes left in the show and I wanted to burn all the energy I had left in my body so danced like a crazed hippie to Waiting For The Tide. Hellfire had a bit of a different arrangement and went into a synth-driven jam, probably the best bit of improv of the evening. And just like that it was 3:30AM and the venue staff turned on the lights as if to say, “don’t even think about an encore.” Since GSW gets another set tomorrow at 8PM on the Pool Deck, you didn’t mind.

So, 16-year-old Scott, I hope you enjoyed this tale of what your future-self was able to see. I don’t know how many parts of this story will blow your mind, but I hope it was nearly everything. Be sure to see as many Phish and God Street Wine shows as you can over the next 18 months as it will be a peak period for both of those acts. Alright, I’ve said enough, I don’t want to change your future, so go have fun and I’ll see you in 17 years.

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15 Responses

  1. Love this Scotty!! Such a great read. Glad you having such a great time aboard the boat, and this GSW show sounds pretty epic. Hopefully word of mouth will spread and they’ll have a huge crowd for their Pool Deck set.

  2. Scotty, you are the man. That was one of the coolest show reviews that I’ve ever read–so clever. And I can only imagine that 16 year old B will make us all proud. Oh, but make sure he grabs the big B from your folks’ house before they throw it away!

  3. nice story – takes me back to a show at villanova university in 1997 when ruby road opened for gsw… was all psyched to meet gsw but they walk from their bus to the stage and then back to their bus and left… i don’t think i even own a copy of 1.99 romances anymore – this is something i’ll have to remedy.

  4. As a great lover of the ‘frame’ of a story as much as the story itself, my friend, let me just say I LOVED this, especially since you’ve tied in Doc Brown and GSW into one straight line of fun reading. KUDOS, King Scotty!

  5. Unbelievable, Scotty! Love it. Can’t wait to read more. Wish I was on JamCruise this year, but we shared some unforgettable moments last year. Tear it up, bro!

  6. That piece was straight up amazing as fuck. I’m so happy for the GSW boys but more importantly, so happy for you Scotty, as such a wonderful combination of things have come together for you this week. Enjoy the rest of your trip, my friend!

  7. I love this. And I don’t even really know much about GSW, except that I remember liking them way back when. But this article, and especially the 11th comment in response to it, reminds me how good it is to be alive right now. I just love how we all get off on each other’s good times. Far as I can tell, we’ve reached a new Golden Age. For people who love the kinds of music we do, has there been a better time since the nascent days of the 60s spun and matured into the heady 70s… maybe peaking in 77? The quality and diversity of the music being created today astounds me. Yet what I love most… is US… and the many US’s out there in this community of kind minded music loving souls we are a part of. Standing on the shoulders of the summer of love — and the seasons flowing to and through it — we’re blessed today to have a brilliant world of music, musicians, joy, fun, adventure, and especially… each other. Walking into MSG on 1/1/11 was like walking into a giant living room at an extended family reunion — one where we didn’t all know each other walking in, and didn’t all have time to meet before the night was through, yet left richer for sharing each other’s company. I’m feeling really good right now… and grateful to have you, and the music, in my life. Yes, the doses were delicious. Sermon over. Thank you for playing. Have a nice day.

  8. Cool article. I just want to give bob weir a big hug, it’s on my bucket list, starring jack nicholson and morgan freeman.

    In opposite fashion, this reminds me of a site where you send electronic mailings to your future self via http://www.futureme.org.

    Needless I have some coming on my 30th and 40th birthdays, along with the supposed end of the world doomsday prophecy set for december 2012.

    There are few things better then a killer live show

  9. Nice review! Great idea. It was excellent to get to meet you on the boat. Looking forward to reading more reviews!

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