It really wasn’t just “One More Saturday Night” even though it was. Yes, the show was on a Saturday night, and I was really happy about that. Having been to at least one and sometimes two shows since the band began touring together in 2015. Most of those shows had been in NY, one in South Florida and now, one in Atlanta. I knew this one would be special and it was a new adventure; my first show in Atlanta.
We are arriving and departing all at the same time.
- David Bowie
Carlos Santana, to paraphrase a funky expression, “tore the roof off that sucker,” on June 27 at a cool and comfortable evening outing near Sacramento, California. He and the band blasted out of the gate, following a big-screen montage of old Santana Woodstock-era footage, with an exhilarating version of “Soul Sacrifice,” the epic instrumental that made the country sit up and take notice 50 years ago, both on the band’s eponymous first record, as well as the forever indelible version performed at Woodstock.
Despite their emergence in the mid-sixties at the height of the counterculture era, the Grateful Dead were never considered an overtly political act. While no friend to the corporate establishment or a cog in the government machine, the band left the protest songs to musicians such as Bob Dylan. That’s not to say that their lyrics don’t touch on the thematic landscape of America’s political woes, but like poetry (and beauty), interpretation is in the eye of the beholder.
“Tennessee Jed” was a raucous riot, as it indubitably should be. The instrumental breaks showcased JRAD’s proclivity for shaking fresh ideas out of well-worn material. Benevento dropped a stanky, Dr. John crossed with Dave Brubeck piano piece. Metzger and Dreiwitz slipped into a parallel, Bizarro “Jed.” The entire unit tilted and started to spin ecstatically. It was like putting a Ferris wheel on top of a roller coaster. JRAD increasingly infused the Dead’s material with their own creative energy. They weren’t out to simply play these cherished songs; they sought to possess them and make them their own.
The San Francisco-based Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia Band arguably played some of their most prolific shows on the East Coast, as strange is it may seem. Those spectacular primal billings at Bill Graham’s Fillmore East entering the 1970s, “the best show that almost didn’t happen” in May of 1977 at Boston Garden, Clarence Clements ethereal sit-in with Jerry Garcia Band at Great Woods, Massachusetts in fall of 1989.
When Uncle Billy has his hat on, you know you are in for a heater... Saturday night delivered just that at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA The Dead faithful showed up in the usual fashion to the home of Tom Brady. At every turn on shakedown you ran into a stealie with the Patriots’ iconic symbol replacing the bolt. But upon entering the stadium, you have a different feeling, a new vibe. After speaking with multiple venue employees and hearing how excited they are for the jam juggernaut to take the stage.
It was 36 years to the day since the first SPAC Grateful Dead concert on June 18, 1983. The anniversary seems to have gone mostly unnoticed by most attendees at the June 18, 2019, SPAC Dead & Company concert. The tour faithful seem to have the philosophy of living in the moment. Those of us that attended the 1983 show will talk about it reverently. We live in the past and the present.