Rubadub on Friday March 11, 2005
Last year I reported on two nights of Beacon chickenskin
<<< a thriving ABB that's sober, fierce, and has multiple sets of rich repertoire, a liquid light show, a road crew and soundstage that is flawless, road-tested,and the same synchro-mesh musical syntax that made the Fillmore East pulsate. Take two drummers who have played together for 36 years,four arms, four feet, one pulsing brain, half black, half white, all blues,Butch Trucks powering the accents and attacks, framing the changes, and Jaimoe ticking the slippery time and coloring the gaps;add a percussionist, Marc Quinones, pedigreed with Santana, pounding the transient pee out of the timbales,congas and splash cymbal, punctuating the stringtalk of the guitarists, punching up the dynamics, and laying out in the interludes, take Oteil, who's kicked off his shoes,
who cradles that Fender bass and turns to the drums,who overlays the fundamental blues tonic with Jaco Pastorius' popcorn chromatics, stroked chords,and harmonic bubbleblowing, alternately laying it down ostinato so thick the foundation rumbles and then slipping up the neck in flurries of piccolo-register counter melodies, before dropping back clean, smack-dab in the groove; remember Gregg Allman who, contrary to tired oldspeak tabloids, appears stone sober and slimmer and in fine pained voice, whose B-3 sound is a thick sonic chuffy pillow that cushions all those percussive strings and drums, and who wrote more classic blues than any other single white man who ever bled; take musical director Warren Haynes who has the steely eyes of an assassin, who sweeps onstage with his tobacco Les Paul or red 335 and counts it off,
and nails every signature bend and signpost with authority,
and cues almost every change with a quick glance or gesture to Butch,
and then, maybe, turns to square off with Derek Trucks,
who stands next to Gregg's organ where none stood awhile,
whose clear spirit channels Duane's quicksilver slide voice,
floats on the shifting breeze of the peerless riddim section,
adds a pinch of Ali Akbar Khan, Marley, Trane, and fatback bacon,
and pushes Haynes>>>>>
ah, there's this year's story; in a 1976 Guitar Player interview,
famous violinist Stephane Grappelli recollected how competition between him and the infamous guitarist Django Reinhardt played out;
"And when he was annoyed with me, he'd give me some funny chords."
In the bio "Jaco," drummer Bob Moses describes the friction between Pat Metheny and Jaco; "Jaco's sh#t was too strong, and the truth of it is Metheny did try to suppress it." (p.65) Some of you may know the story of Garcia throwing Lesh down the stairs at the Carousel on 2.14.68 when frustrated with the GD bassist's playing; these three partnerships, of course, generated profound music because the players ultimately served the MUSIC, not themselves. And so it is with the mighty ABB.
In the peakbagging "competition" between Derek and Warren,
the audience is the beneficiary; hold on people,
these two are daring each other to new heights-
and they'll take us along, in the Electric Church at the Beacon.
Butch/Jaimoe and Gregg frame the fattest groove,
Oteil and Marc Q are positively a huge catapult,
and Derek and Warren can fly so high and so close to the sun
that the glare can blind them;
Derek and Warren's body language during the first set on Friday March 11, viewed from back stage,
suggested some friction;
no warm eye contact, no conspiring or huddling;
Warren playing the slide solo on Statesboro?
Cutting off a Derek solo on another tune?
Nonetheless, highlights were a funked up Wasted Words, 15 minute Desdemona, and Oteil's new instant instrumental classic Egypt.
But there was a chill midstage;
because Warren sings, and writes, and "directs" or cues the changes,
he has a power over the flow that Derek doesn't;
and because Derek burns with a fine uncontrollable flame
that can suddenly coat the audience in ice,
because his slippery glass wings lift the theatre to
urgent, fresh and hair-raising peaks, he has a power too
(worth noting he is running a few Fender amps this year
along with his Marshall, for a clearer shimmer);
so as the second set eased out of the acoustic transition, and into
the launching pad part of the second set,
the balance of power seemed unsettled.
Not to worry, as it turned out, Oteil took over and drove the Same Thing with Marc Ford into the goosebump zone, the three guitarists trading
fours and Oteil stepping in to push and push it,
there, and There, and THERE;
then a Mountain Jam for the ages, speaking of peak bagging,
Butch's timpani (tuned F and A according to the crew)
Quinones' brilliant accents, Oteil's impossibly fluid propulsion,
Warren's sweet classic Gibson tone guiding the movements,
Derek soaring in synchromesh tandem.
Out of drums, Oteil threw down on the theme so hard
the guitarists turned to follow the hot hand on bass,
and we could hear echoes of Third Stone from the Sun.
And the encore Whipping Post
(adjectives worn out here, get the tapes)
showed Warren and Derek aglow,
finally turned to the center,
back where it all began.
Added: Friday, March 25, 2005
Reviewer: scott russell