Last weekend, the historic Warfield in San Francisco hosted a special two nights in honor of the life and legacy of Jerry Garcia. It is fitting, as the storied 86-year old theater hosted Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia Band dozens of times and continued to book acts that bring an adventurous music spirit. One of the beloved guitarist and bandleader’s closest collaborators outside of Grateful Dead was organist Melvin Seals.
Legendary blues preservationists Hot Tuna performed a three-night engagement in Berkeley’s storied Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse to bid farewell to 2018. On the eve of their fiftieth anniversary together as Hot Tuna, Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady were unmistakably grateful to be still playing and creating together.
Acclaimed mandolinist and bandleader David Grisman is no stranger to Berkeley’s Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse. The storied folk and Americana venue has undoubtedly seen the likes of dozens of incarnations of Dawg music with countless shows. The crowd at the Freight is respectful yet boisterous, out of their seat yet out of the way, absorbed yet moveable.
Few drummers have had such an illustrious career as Steve Gadd. While the Grateful Web tends to naturally gravitate towards genre-bending, multifarious players, Gadd’s range of original work and cache of collaborations are strikingly diverse. From Simon and Garfunkle’s famed 1981 Concert in Central Park reunion, to Steely Dan’s legendary recording “Aja,” to more recent stints with Eric Clapton and James Taylor, his session portfolio alone is enough to drool over. But Gadd is much more than the man behind the kit.
And what musical lives they’ve been! Nelson and Cage, both synonymous with many decades of NRPS’ psychedelicized countrified stylings, have entertained concert audiences and home listeners with many, many other bands – Nelson with the David Nelson Band, as well as Old & In the Way, Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band, The Good Old Boys, Dead Ringers, Al Rapone & the Zydeco Express, The Papermill Creek Rounders, and way back in the early 1960s with the Wildwood Boys bluegrass band alongside Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter. Cage, in addition to his storied career with the NRPS, has delivered his trademark pedal steel guitar articulations with Great Speckled Bird, Stir Fried, Solar Circus, The Brooklyn Cowboys, Terry & the Pirates, and on substantial studio work with Bob Dylan and Anne Murray.
In Adam Wakefield’s debut album with Average Joes Entertainment, Gods & Ghosts, Memphis soul meets New Orlean’s funk. Think crisp air, crystal blue lakes and a guitar by a fireplace. Wakefield’s songs are laced with irony and heartache. His robust vocals jolt his lyrics to life, and he’s got you right where he wants you. The swooning instrumentals in the background mixed with his melodic voice will have you envisioning Gods & Ghosts.
Lukas Nelson, whose career profile continues to broaden and flourish, most recently for his work in the remake of “A Star is Born,” doubled down on his commitment to the Music Heals International (MHI) organization. On November 19, he again headlined a dynamic, diverse, and musically proficient lineup of music in support of MHI’s Haitian music-in-schools program at the intimate Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley, Calif.