The Rhythm Devils @ B.B. Kings (09.01.10)
There have been very few post-Jerry/Dead projects that I have enjoyed. As stated in previous articles, I lost almost all interest in pursuing The Dead after Jerry died. It took many a year before I started seeing Furthur for the first time this year and sadly, Bobby practically ruined the first set by passing out on his feet while on stage.
Feel free to read all about that craziness: Furthur @ Nokia Theatre Times Square (07.28.10).
There will forever be post-Jerry projects but nothing will quite match The Grateful Dead and the power through music that they projected while Jerry was alive. But at the end of the day, we LOVE those songs, we LOVE the lyrics, and we LOVE the notes. At the end of the day, it sometimes doesn’t matter who is singing them. And so, I have begun checking out the Post-Jerry projects that have come around my way. More importantly, I have come to appreciate, albeit only a few, Post-Jerry projects I have seen beginning with Bill Kreutzmann‘s 7 Walker’s, including Papa Mali and George Porter. A lovely new project with fresh Robert Hunter lyrics.
Read about the 7 Walkers latest NYC show: 7 Walkers Featuring Bill Kreutzmann, Papa Mali & George Porter, Jr. @ Brooklyn Bowl (05.28.10)
Tonight’s performance: The Rhythm Devils at B.B. Kings in Times Square, NYC. Having seen them last at Gathering of the Vibes with Keller Williams, I was excited to see how Tim Bluhm (The Mother Hips) sounded with them. I love both of their voices and there was great debate over these two artists during the show….but I will get onto that later…
I was internally PRAYING that there would be a dance floor. At times, B.B. Kings has somehow thought that the audience to some of their shows might be old and not want to dance? Shoot, not at a Dead-related project. Happily, as we walked into the B.B. Kings basement space they had left a portion of the dance floor uncluttered with tables and it was packed from side to side with dancers. I have just got to assume that B.B. Kings doesn’t give a rats ass about the people actually watching the music, they only care about the people buying alcohol and the people who sit down to eat. The rest of us are just supposed to fend for ourselves.
Special Guest: Tim Bluhm – Guitar & Vocals
Making my way to the front, I found a spot directly to the left of Tim Bluhm and his never-ending legs. The Rhythm Devils have had two wonderful musicians trading off as lead vocals and guitar throughout the tour: Tim Bluhm and Keller Williams. Tonight, Tim Bluhm (The Mother Hips) graced the stage with The Rhythm Devils. Having seen Keller Williams perform with The Rhythm Devils at Gathering of the Vibes a few months earlier, it was a general consensus that Tim Bluhm was the better fit for this project for many reasons.
Starting the first set with Scarlet Begonias, an uplifting, vibrant song, Tim Bluhm‘s vocals slide into place perfectly with that Devilish sound. Such a great voice, slightly obscure for those unfamiliar with his projects, such a commanding presence and great guitar styling. He was a perfect fit for this project.
Keller Williams, on the other hand, is by no means a weaker substitute, yet he has such a distinct voice and guitar styling that the whole thing just screams that Keller Williams is performing with The Rhythm Devils. For those of us who LOVE Keller Williams, this is a wonderful treat and I do LOVE Keller Williams, both his voice, his styling and his cute head of hair! However, it felt as though Tim Bluhm folded right into the group, mixing seamlessly into the The Rhythm Devils sound rather then standing alone as Keller did.
Fire on the Mountain was to follow with Davy Knowles kicking out the first guitar solo of the night. Now, if I could insert a sound clip here it would be of a car coming to s screeching halt after you hear his name. Personally, in that front row, as soon as I focused on him…I hit the brakes and my jaw dropped. How many of y’all have heard of DAVY KNOWLES? DAVY KNOWLES!! Wow. A wonderful, handsome, vocally appealing, shredding guitar player. Yes, another one of those.
The Grateful Dead medallion fronting Mickey Hart‘s Drum kit shimmered in lights, almost as if it were winking at us as The Devils performed what could be a potential theme song: Friend of the Devil. Davy Knowles moved to the mandolin for this tune, further exposing his talents to the audience. Originally from England, when not touring with The Rhythm Devils, Davy is leading the group Davy Knowles & Back Door Slam.
After a while, I noticed Tim Bluhm was looking at his music stand more than usual. It became clear he was reading the lyrics and possibly reading the chords to the songs as he sang, tossing his lyric sheets to the ground after each song. I thought of my of one of my girlfriend’s, who has a major thing for guys reading sheet music hahaha.
Tripping their way into Fountains of Wood, it was a great song. The talking drum played by Sikiru Adepoju was an interesting addition. It add slight dimension but overall , without even a spot light on the poor guy, he was cast to the side and I forgot he was there half the time. That is absolutely not a good thing. Now, if you want to see a talking drum performance, come with me to see the West African Band at midnight every Saturday. Unreal…
The remainder of the set brought forth a free jam on the drums. Mickey Hart rang the chimes, adding a softness to the lovely This One Hour. Davy Knowles leading vocals on Cold Rain and Snow. I just fell in love with him harder and harder with every note that came from his mouth and hands. At some point throughout the night, I overheard people dissin’ the lovely, young musician that was tearing the stage up that night. Honestly. It absolutely didn’t bother me, like it appeared to bother others, that this young man was so young. Personally, it makes me happy for the future of Dead projects/music/vibes when I see young musicians holding their place along side the greats. When I see them taking that music, becoming inspired by it, taking it on and making it their own all while keeping the integrity of the song. He was phenomenal. How could anyone hate on him? Blew my mind…
I saw my friends to the left of the stage and I made my way for a different vantage point. At some point during the first set, a photographer had placed a Jerry Garcia Bobble Head Doll near Andy Hess, on top of the amps. For the remainder of the night, Andy would take a step forward and softly tap the head allowing Jerry to nod in agreement to the smiling faces.
The Rhythm Devils closed the first set with a feisty rendition of Cumberland Blues and UNCLE JOHN’S BAND!!! Such a great tune. Such a familiar tune. Everyone was singing and dancing and smiling. The EXACT hoped outcome for such a show!
We took a break outside to use our phones and rage Times Square a bit. There is no phone reception in the basement of B.B. Kings Club. It’s quite annoying but liberating at the same time. Not drinking, I picked up a soda from the street vendor to have in my purse. Surrounding the cart were tie-dyed shirts as far as the eye could see. This was nothing like when Furthur was in town a few months back and the streets were hardly walk-able, but it was still a highly psychedelic street. After about 10 minutes, we made our way back down the plush stairs for the second set.
We made sure to walk in a little early so that Josh could join me in the front stage. Being that he is over 6-feet, it’s better he already be there rather then try to push his way up to the front once it’s already packed. After a few minutes, the stage was once again filled with some of our scenes most respected musicians. Watching Tim Bluhm‘s solo during Samson and Delilah was a point where I caught myself completely lost in the moment.
Wrecking Crew was fun. A light, danceable song (as if any of their songs WERE NOT danceable) that had everyone on stage as well as the audience grinning from ear to ear. It was clear that the members on stage that night were having a blast. It came out in their performances, the musical banter was evident. Listen to Davy Knowles‘s voice. Man, I love his voice!!
Then it was time for the drums! Making way for the intro into The Other One, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart completely took off on their respective monstrous set-ups. I sometimes have my issues with muddy snare drums or too many electronics but these two truly created a unique vibe in B.B. Kings that night. In the moment, I thought there was some deep, creative drumming going on. Sikiru Adepoju had his moment on the talking drum as well during this time. Still, no spot light placed on him. He stood on the side, in the shadows. WHY???
Mountain of the Moon was lovely. Such a slow song, couples formed and began swaying immediately as Tim’s voice soothed over us on vocals. The various guitar solos followed and SPAAAAACE entailed through to the end of the song. Totally trippy. Voodoo Zombies, sang by Davy Knowles, who sounded a little like a male version of Joan Osbourne for a minute, followed bringing the vibe back into overdrive followed by New Speed Way Boogie where the guitars weeped on stage and the bass was heavy. Andy tapped Bobble Jerry with a smile while the audience sang along helping the band bring the songs to their end.
A HUGE jam out occurred during Strange World. And finally, they closed the set out with Not Fade Away. Another sing-a-long kind of song that had everyone involved.
As they exited the stage, the crowd finished their singing and began screaming as loud as they could. A truly appreciative audience who, I think, realized how great a performance they had just seen. With the introduction of Davy Knowles into the mix, I had been elevated to some pretty high heights as he sang with that voice. With the insertion of Tim Bluhm as lead over Keller Williams, I had seen a different performance, I had felt that this was such a better fit. As I spanned the room for friends, they returned to the stage for one last song. As Davy Knowles sang So Many Roads, I slowly prepared myself for the night of music to be over. That is never a fun feeling but what a song to end on!!
Sadly, a recording of the performance never made its way online. There were numerous tapers at the show. However, at sometime, I believe during intermission, something occurred between some tapers and the audience that forced the taping to be shut down. Some STUPID Drama ensued and here we are with no recording. GRRRRRRRRRRRR……regardless, here is the set-list and I hope the videos suffice!!
Sept 1 – NEW YORK, NY – B.B. King Blues Club
1st Set: Scarlet Begonias>, Fire on the Mountain>, Friend of Devil, Fountains of Wood, This One Hour, Cold Rain and Snow>, Cumberland Blues>, Uncle John’s Band
2nd Set: Sampson & Delilah>, Wrecking Crew>, Other One, Mountains of the Moon, Voodoo Zombies, New Speedway Boogie, Strange World, Going Down the Road Feeling Bad, Not Fade Away
Encore: So Many Roads