Tonight, I saw Phil Lesh shred his bass guitar. He was joined on stage with his friends – Handlebars, Young Boy, Easy Drummer, Dark Star Keyboardist. Those weren’t their names, cos I didn’t know who they were; but that’s what I named them.
They played at Phil Lesh’s live venue Terrapin Crossroads, located in San Rafael, not too far from the Extended Stay that Taylor and I spent two months living when we first moved to the Bay Area two years ago. Food is good, ambience fantastic with beautiful patio seating along the water. His band mate Bob Weir has his own place, another wonderful live music venue named Sweetwater, located in Milll Valley.
It’s not easy writing what’s going on in life in realtime. The difference between living it and writing about it is a fine line, the experience markedly different depending upon which side of the line you happen to be standing.
In the days before cell phones and portable cameras at concert venues, people just rolled their eyes behind their head and lost themselves to the music. It was pure. It was magic. It was epic. It was wonderful. It was real. It was unreal.
That’s the beautiful thing about live music. Anyone who has a passion for it knows it. Reading this, all of them are giving me a collective “Um, duh- dude. Tell me something I don’t know; and quit wasting my time.” They’re right. But this is for everyone else. There are many places you can find God in this world. A live music venue is definitely one of them.
With The Grateful Dead’s 50th Anniversary Reunion Tour about to start this summer, the Dead is everywhere. Admittedly, while I really like them, and know many of their songs, I am not a Dead-Head, not by any stretch of the imagination. And so, on a night like tonight, I didn’t know most of the songs played, but even without knowing the names, the songs were still incredible. And the ones I knew? Listening to them live made it that much better.
And so, some highlights… “In the Midnight Hour” reminds me that I need to watch “The Commitments” the first chance I get. “Sympathy for the Devil” literally is bringing the house down. I really believe the roof will cave in and this could be my last night ever. And… It… Is… Awesome. And now it gets even better; they are covering “Strawberry Fields Forever” by the Beatles.
I’d never seen Phil Lesh before; and now I wonder what took me so long.
There were men and women all around me, dancing and living and loving and having the time of their lives. These men and women much older than me were acting like boys and girls half my age, a third of theirs. Phil had a way of doing that. He acted like the youngest guy here.
The greatest jam of all time then happened. “I know you, rider. You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.”
Handlebars, Young Boy, Easy Drummer, Dark Star Keyboardist – you all rocked out. But Phil was the man behind the wheel. And that semi was riding strong, with a purpose, with a passion, with a smile.
And that’s what Phil did.
He kept everyone steady. On point. In key. He was the coolest cat on a stage filled with cool men.
He fucking rocked.
He smiles and then he laughs, his smile and his laugh lasting entire songs. At 75 years old, he enjoys the stage more than anyone. “Oh well a touch of grey suits you anyway.”
Go Adventure. Go Travel. Go Live.
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