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Jeff Moehlis: Further’s Long, Strange Trip Stops in Santa Barbara
Sometime in the middle of the trippy jam “King Solomon’s Marbles” at the Further concert Monday night at the Santa Barbara Bowl, I decided to sell my house, quit my job, and support myself by selling bootleg T-shirts and burritos and brownies of dubious origin, living on a bus on a long, strange trip to a place that is always the answer to the question, “Where is the next stop on the tour?”
No, I hadn’t been smoking anything, unlike my immediate neighbors at the show who probably smoked enough weed to knock out an elephant. (With avid pothead Willie Nelson coming to the same venue a few nights after Further, it seems to be “Smoke a Bowl at the Bowl Week.”)
OK, so I changed my mind when the song ended. But I get it. I can understand why several generations have tuned in, turned on and dropped out of normative society to follow the Grateful Dead and its progeny, of which Further is the current torchbearer. These songs loosen the spine and the head, unlocking the feel-the-music-and-feel-good-man gene buried deep within our collective DNA.
Further features Bob Weir (guitar/vocals) and Phil Lesh (bass/vocals), founding members of the Grateful Dead, who are touring together now more than 15 years after “Captain Trips” Jerry Garcia died. Rounding out the lineup was a wonderful set of musicians: Jeff Chimenti (keyboards), John Kadlecik (guitar/vocals), Joe Russo (drums), and Sunshine Garcia Becker and Jeff Pehrson (background vocals).
Like the Grateful Dead, Further has a different setlist every night, which makes every concert a unique experience. At the Bowl, this included the bulk of side one of their 1975 album Blues for Allah, including the aforementioned “King Solomon’s Marbles” and the crowd favorite “Franklin’s Tower” with the chorus “Roll away the dew,” making a strong case that this is the best album in The Dead’s catalog — although for me it’s a toss-up between this one and American Beauty.
The bulk of the songs were from the Grateful Dead’s vast concert repertoire, plus “Money for Gasoline” from Weir’s post-Dead band RatDog and a new Further song, written with longtime Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, called “Seven Hills of Gold.” There were also two cool covers: Traffic’s “Feelin’ Alright” and the groovy encore-starting “Come Together” by The Beatles.
The only downers of the evening were the huge security line to get in and the slow line to get a wristband for admittance to the floor. A bit more staff helping out would have brightened everyone’s evening, including that of the staff who were clearly working hard to get everyone through quickly.
Overall, the show was much more up than down, much more high than, well, not high — a great event, with a great vibe and great music.
When the show ended with the hymn-like “Attics of My Life” and the lyrics “When the secrets all are told, and the petals all unfold/When there was no dream of mine, you dreamed of me,” it was clear that the shared Grateful Dead dream lives on with Lesh, Weir and their many, many fans.
Setlist (Grateful Dead songs unless indicated)
Hell In a Bucket
Cream Puff War
Feelin’ Alright (Traffic)
Me and My Uncle
Money for Gasoline (RatDog)
Comes a Time
Turn On Your Lovelight
Viola Lee Blues (first and second verses)
Seven Hills of Gold (Further)
Viola Lee Blues (third verse)
King Solomon’s Marbles
Help on the Way
Donor Rap (liver transplant recipient Lesh’s plea for people to become organ donors)
Come Together (The Beatles)
Attics of My Life
— Noozhawk contributor Jeff Moehlis is an associate professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his Web site, music-illuminati.com.
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