Terrapin Crossroads’ Sunday Daydream Festival

Article Contributed by Alan Sheckter | Published on Tuesday, July 11, 2023

“Welcome home, Terrapin Nation,” Phil Lesh proclaimed on July 9 to the large crowd before him on the expansive, lush lawn of McNears Beach Park on the shores of San Pablo Bay in San Rafael, Calif. Lesh, co-founder of the Grateful Dead and now 83, joined the so-called Terrapin All-Stars for the closing set of a first-ever, one-day Sunday Daydream festival, which began in the early morning with an aptly named Turtle Trot that included 5K, 10K, and kids races.

2023 Turtle Trot | San Rafael, California

The inaugural Sunday Daydream was particularly meaningful as a rekindling of music and memories that followed the closing in late-2021 of the beloved Terrapin Crossroads, a Marin County music destination and hotspot operated and managed for 10 years by Phil and Jill Lesh. Here at McNears Beach Park, less than five miles from Terrapin Crossroads, a full day of activities was presented by “the next generation of the Lesh family: Brian and Grahame (who you might know from their many nights on the TXR stage), and their wives Mari and Claire,” stated the organizers. Indeed, the day was full of many, many, “Great to see you again!” encounters between audience members who used to connect at the old nightclub/restaurant/outdoor venue that was often affectionately referred to as “The Clubhouse.”

Dan "Lebo" Lebowitz | San Rafael, CA

Grahame Lesh | San Rafael, CA

The day culminated with the Terrapin All-Stars performing a solid two hours of Grateful Dead material, with pristine sound and a lineup that included three renowned and gifted guitarists who often performed at Terrapin Crossroads – Stu Allen, Dan “Lebo” Lebowitz (included pedal steel), and Grahame Lesh – along with other standouts, including Jason Crosby (keyboards), Amy Helm (vocals), and John Molo (drums), along with revolving bass players.

Reed Mathis

Beginning at 4 p.m. with Reed Mathis on bass, the band came out with a muscular opening three-song salvo of furious intensity: “St. Stephen” and “China Cat Sunflower,” into “I Know You Rider.” Grahame Lesh then donned a bass guitar for a lovely Helm-vocalized rendering of “Friend of the Devil,” and then Brian Rashap followed on bass for the next couple of selections – “Standing on the Moon,” crooned by Allen, and “They Love Each Other,” sung by Helm. Then, after being seated behind a stack of equipment along with several grandkids who wandered on and off the stage, Phil Lesh took to the bass for the second hour of the band’s performance.

“Welcome home, Terrapin Nation,” Phil Lesh

With the elder Lesh now onstage, the band, all of whom have exhaustive musical pedigrees, delivered a meritorious second hour of songs and jamming to the sun-splashed assemblage, consisting of “Jack Straw” (Lebo on lead vocals) “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo” (sung by Phil), “Eyes of the World” (Helm on vocals), “Terrapin Station” (Allen and Grahame/Phil Lesh on vocals), and a closer of “Uncle John’s Band” (with Elliott Peck joining on vocals).

Terrapin Crossroads’ Sunday Daydream Festival

McNears Beach Park, San Rafael, Calif.

The weather was sunny and clear, and the official high temperature topped out at 73. But, depending where one stood or sat, and the varying influences of the sun and/or the marine breeze, attendees could opt for contentedly cool or comfortably warm surrounds. Food and beverages, including craft beer, were available from several local purveyors, though the food vendors were too few. The fest managers have already stated that they are aware of that situation, which should improve for the next Sunday Daydream (see final paragraph for more info).

Eric Krasno | San Rafael, CA

Jason Crosby | San Rafael, CA

Preceding the Terrapin All-Stars, Eric Krasno along with Crosby, Mathis, and drummer Joe “Otis McDonald” Bagale, outputted a searing 90-minute set of rock and blues material, including Krasno’s own pieces of music, such as opening tune “Jezebel,” along with powerful cover versions of the Allman Brothers Band’s “Dreams” (sung by McDonald), “That’s What Love Will Make You Do” (Little Milton song, but known fondly by this crowd also as a Jerry Garcia Band song), and “Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley” (Allen Toussaint/Lee Dorsey; made famous by Robert Palmer). Grahame Lesh joined the band for Krasno’s “Curse Lifter” and then Elliott Peck came onstage to sing during the closing sequence of Jerry Garcia’s “Deal,” and Krasno’s beautiful gospel-like “Please Ya,” and “Unconditional Love.”

Elliot Peck | San Rafael, CA

The post-race musical portion of the day started with a one-time outfit dubbed The Many Noted Outlaws, featuring another exemplary group of players who often performed at Terrapin Crossroads: Scott Law (guitar and vocals), Greg Loiacono (guitar and vocals), Rashap (bass), Scott Guberman (keyboards), and Alex Koford (drums).

Greg Loiacono & Scott Law | San Rafael, CA

Scott Guberman & T.J. Kanczuzewski | San Rafael, CA

Brian Rashap | San Rafael, CA

Terrapin Crossroads’ Sunday Daydream Festival

That ensemble offered a tight, eclectic set that included such gems as “Baby What You Want Me To Do” (Jimmy Reed, 1959), “Bertha” (Grateful Dead, 1971), “Run for the Roses” (Jerry Garcia, 1982), “That’s All” (Genesis, 1983), “Fire” (Jimi Hendrix, 1967), and “Runnin’ Down a Dream” (Tom Petty, 1989). Shannon Koehler from the Stone Foxes joined the band on harmonica for the closing number,  “Run Through the Jungle” (Creedence Clearwater Revival, 1970).

Connor O’Sullivan | San Rafael, CA

Grahame, Nathan Graham and Elliott Peck

The full day’s activities began with the Turkey Trot races around the park at 9 a.m., followed by a set at 10 a.m. by the Turkey Trotters, aka Midnight North: Grahame Lesh, Elliott Peck, Connor O’Sullivan, Nathan Graham, and T.J. Kanczuzewski (Scott Guberman sat in on keyboards for a couple of songs). The Midnight North team was rarin’ to go as the entire band, sans Peck, ran the 5K race before their performance. Their set included a powerful “Scarlet Begonias” into “Fire On the Mountain,” Gillian Welch’s “Dry Town,” and several Midnight North originals, including opener “Playing a Poor Hand Well,” and two selections from their most recent album, “There’s Always a Story,” – “Earthquakes” and “The Sailor & the Sea.” The set ended with a marvelous rendering of David Bowie’s “Young Americans.”

Turtle Trot 2023

The races themselves (10K runners started first, followed a few minutes later by 5K participants), were serious yet colorful affairs, with a couple/few hundred participants. Runners sprinted, ran, shuffled, and walked the course trails mapped out among the lovely expanses of the park. Morning temperatures in the mid-50s allowed for an event free of any heat-related difficulties.

Terrapin All-Stars | San Rafael, CA

Phil Lesh | San Rafael, CA

Dan Lebowitz and Amy Helm | San Rafael, CA

Phil Lesh & Dan Lebowitz | San Rafael, CA

Stu Allen, Grahame Lesh, and Amy Helm

The Players – Terrapin All-Stars: Phil Lesh (Grateful Dead); Stu Allen (Phil Lesh & Friends, Dark Star Orchestra, Stu Allen & Mars Hotel, Melvin Seals & JGB); Dan “Lebo” Lebowitz (ALO, Lebo & Friends, Brokedown in Bakersfield); Jason Crosby (Jackson Browne, Shana Morrison, Blind Boys of Alabama, Robert Randolph, and many others as well as solo and session work); Amy Helm (Levon Helm/Midnight Ramble Band, Ollabelle, solo and session work); John Molo (Bruce Hornsby and the Range, Moonalice, others); Grahame Lesh (Midnight North, Phil Lesh & Friends); Brian Rashap (The Mother Hips, Casual Coalition, production tech); Reed Mathis (Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Tea Leaf Green, Marco Benevento, Golden Gate Wingmen, Billy & the Kids, solo).

Eric Krasno & Friends | San Rafael, CA

Eric Krasno & Friends: Eric Krasno (Soulive, Lettuce, solo, and Grammy Award-winning songwriter/producer); Otis McDonald (Eric Krasno, Mickey Hart, Jazz Mafia, producer, instructor, solo and session work); Elliott Peck (Midnight North, Phil Lesh & Friends, solo efforts); Jason Crosby (already listed); Reed Mathis; (already listed); Grahame Lesh (already listed).

Scott Law & Brian Rashap | San Rafael, CA

The Many Noted Outlaws: Scott Law (Phil Lesh & Friends, Cosmic Twang, Brokedown in Bakersfield, solo work); Greg Loiacono (The Mother Hips, Green Leaf Rustlers, Sensations, solo work); Scott Guberman (Phil Lesh & Friends, The Gilmour Project, more, as well as solo/session work; Alex Koford (Colonel and the Mermaids, Grateful Shred); Brian Rashap (already listed)

Phil Lesh | San Rafael, CA

The second Sunday Daydream is set for Aug. 27 at Stafford Lake Park in Novato, Calif., with announced performances by a) the Terrapin All-Stars featuring most of Dawes (Taylor Goldsmith, Griffin Goldsmith, Lee Pardini, and Trevor Menear), along with Grahame Lesh and a horn section featuring Jennifer Hartswick, Natalie Cressman, and James Casey; b) Melvin Seals & JGB; c) Nicki Bluhm, Scott Law, and Ross James; and d) Moonalice. Notably, Stafford Lake Park was the site of the local Sweetwater Music Hall’s one-day Sweetwater in the Sun fest in September 2018 that featured a band consisting of Bob Weir, Steve Kimock, Jay Lane, Mookie Siegel, Wally Ingram, and the late Robin Sylvester.

Stu Allen | San Rafael, CA

Terrapin All-Stars: St. Stephen, China Cat Sunflower, I Know You Rider, Friend of the Devil, Standing on the Moon, They Love Each Other, <Phil Lesh joins>, Jack Straw, Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo, Eyes of the World, Terrapin Station, Uncle Johns Band

Eric Krasno and Grahame Lesh | San Rafael, CA

Eric Krasno & Friends: Jezebel, Power to Love, That’s What Love Will Make You Do, Dreams, Leave Me Alone, Fire, Sneakin’ Salley Through the Alley, Curse Lifter, Deal, Please Ya, Unconditional Love.

Phil Lesh | July 9th, 2023

McNears Beach Park, San Rafael, Calif.

John Molo | San Rafael, CA