Groovin' in the Grove | 6/15/2024 | Recap

Article Contributed by Alan Sheckter | Published on Saturday, June 22, 2024

About 200 or so smiling faces gathered in the Berkeley Hills (officially the community of Kensington, Calif.) on a beautiful June 15 afternoon for a musical benefit featuring the acoustic David Nelson Band, Steve Poltz, and Ragged Charms (a one-time ensemble featuring Dan “Lebo” Lebowitz, three fellows from Hot Buttered Rum, Stephanie Salva, and Wally Ingram). Along with a lively Wavy Gravy, who was seated onstage throughout the event and shared some whimsical tales, and a nice trove of items made available through silent auction, Tapestry Productions’ ( Tamara Klamner brought everyone together for a fundraiser for Youth Vs. Apocalypse (, a diverse group of young Oakland-based climate-justice activists who “fight for a livable climate and an equitable, sustainable, and just world.”

Danny Goldberg's “sound immersion” | Groovin' in the Grove

Steve Poltz | Groovin' in the Grove

Steve Poltz | Kensington, CA

Following a brief Danny Goldberg “sound immersion” greeting, Poltz, an esteemed and charmingly zany acoustic troubadour/jester, performed first. Moving about the stage area, he sang and strummed “Let’s Stay Together” (his 2022 song, not the Al Green tune of the same name), “Folksinger,” and the platinum-certified song he wrote with Jewel in 1995, “You Were Meant For Me.” The prolific songwriter also played two songs he had just written, including “Brand New Liver,” in which he sang, satirically, about his “drinking my first beer with a brand-new liver.”

Aniya Butler | Groovin' in the Grove

Groovin' in the Grove | Kensington, CA

Aniya Butler, a poet and Youth Vs. Apocalypse’s Hip-Hop & Climate Justice Coordinator, spoke to the audience about the nonprofit, which, according to their website, “are a diverse group of young climate justice activists working together to lift the voices of youth, in particular youth of color and working-class youth. Our collective action aims to fight for a livable climate and an equitable, sustainable, and just world.”

The David Nelson Band | Kensington, CA

David Nelson | Groovin' in the Grove

Barry Sless | Groovin' in the Grove

Pete Sears | Kensington, CA

Mookie Siegel | Kensington, CA

David Nelson Band | Groovin' in the Grove

The David Nelson Band followed with a 45-minute or so acoustic performance of traditional tunes, cover songs, and the DNB’s own “Different World.” Singer/songwriter/guitarist Nelson, 30-year leader of DNB, New Riders of the Purple Sage co-founder, and member of the Wildwood Boys with Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter in the early 1960s, had turned 81 three days prior. Nelson and the band (Pete Sears, bass; Barry Sless, acoustic guitar; Mookie Siegel, accordion/vocals; and Wally Ingram, drums) performed “Diamond Joe,” “Two Soldiers,” “Freight Train Boogie,” “In the Pines,” “Friend of the Devil” (before which Nelson told the humorous story of how he helped write the song for Robert Hunter until Garcia heard it and appropriated it for the Grateful Dead), “Different World,” and “Rocky Road Blues.” Sears and Sless, as they do every time they collaborate, be it with DNB or Moonalice, tore it up on bass and guitar.

Ragged Charms | Groovin' in the Grove

Dan Lebowitz | Groovin' in the Grove

Stephanie Salva | Groovin' in the Grove

Nat Keefe | Groovin' in the Grove

Erik Yates & Bryan Horne | Groovin' in the Grove

Ragged Charms | Groovin' in the Grove

Next up, the so-called Ragged Charms played for about 90 minutes, covering David Lindley’s “She Took Off My Romeos,” Jerry Garcia’s/Grateful Dead’s “They Love Each Other,” and a few tunes from Lebo (guitar/vocals), Stephanie Salva (ukulele/vocals), and a couple featuring Hot Buttered Rum’s Nat Keefe (guitar/vocals) and Erik Yates (banjo/dobro/vocals), with Hot Buttered Rum’s Bryan Horne (bass) also in the mix.

Ragged Charms with Steve Poltz | Kensington, CA

Ragged Charms | Kensington, CA

Next, they invited Poltz back to the stage for a spirited version of John Prine’s 1971 classic “Spanish Pipedream” – “Blow up your TV / Throw away your paper / Go to the country / Build you a home…” Then, Nelson joined the band for a sweet rendering of the Grateful Dead’s “Ripple.” After a quick huddle, all the musicians, and some kids with hand percussion instruments, closed out the day with a rousing “Not Fade Away.”

Groovin' in the Grove | Kensington, CA

Groovin' in the Grove | Kensington, CA

Groovin' in the Grove | Kensington, CA

Groovin' in the Grove | Kensington, CA