ShowReview by Ted Silverman
Phil Lesh, Ross James, Scott Law, Alex Koford, Chris Gelbuda
Benefit the Albert Playground Redesign&
B St. Beautification Project
Jam > Jackstraw, West LA Fadeaway, Scarlet Begonias > Fire on the Mountain, Cassidy, St. Stephen > Eyes of the World > Help on the Way > Slipknot > Franklin's Tower > Not Fade Away E: Ripple
Friday night at Terrapin Crossroads with Phil Lesh & Friends thoroughly exceeded my expectations.
This event was a benefit to support San Rafael’s Albert Playground Redesign& B Street Beautification Project. Phil’s band for the event featured Scott Law, Ross James, Alex Korford and Chris Gelbuda.
At show time the gig had yet to sell out which was surprising considering the bargain ticket price of twenty-five bucks, but this had the net result of providing a loose, roomy concert experience for the assembled crowd.
With the presence of 3 talented singing guitarists, a singing drummer and with a smattering of vocals from Phil, it was all voices on deck. The lack of a keyboard player was barely noticed.
The show kicked off with wide open jam that ebbed and flowed toward a dramatic and jammy Jackstraw sung as duet by Scott and Chris. This was my first time seeing Chris and with zero in the way of background information about him I can honestly state he was way more than worthy of being on that stage. His voice was clear, with a beautiful, powerful tone that complemented his heavy-duty, reverb-drenched guitar tones and fleet fingered licks. His guitar style reminded me of Mick Taylor. The only complaint I noticed is that he focused pretty intently on his iPad and didn’t quite own the tunes, but he did a fine job of delivering the goods, all things considered.
Ross James brought his quirky vocals and fiery licks to the fore with his take on West LA Fadeaway that saw hot solos from all three guitarists. From there a long and potent Scarlet Begonias was deeply explored leading to the classic transition into Fire on the Mountain, with Lesh firing off the signature ostinato complemented by Scott Law’s emulation of some of Garcia’s best loved signature licks.
With Fire on the Mountain landing on a dime, Ross stepped up to deliver Cassidy which was subsequently followed by a high-energy St. Stephen with a fantastic intro by Scott and numerous solos by the three guitarists. Ross broke the jam down a bit and teased out an obvious reference to Led Zeppelin’s Living Loving Maid. At some-point Alex Korford saved the day by taking on the “did he doubt, or did he try,” line that the other vocalists missed. In fact, all night long the harmony treatments were very strong and ear-pleasing. Alex was also rock steady and fun on drums.
Hardly missing a beat, from St Stephen the band went toward the Emaj7 and toyed with the intro to Eyes of the World for a good long while before Scott eventually sang the vocals. Ross, Chris and Scott each took moving and lengthy lead breaks.
A powerful Help > Slip > Franklin’s Tower got the room truly rocking which led to a pounding Not Fade Away.
Prior to Phil’s donor rap he discussed the local park renovation cause and that it takes the fans to show up and the band to entertain in order for the show to benefit those trying to help with a redesign and clean-up of San Rafael’s Albert park.
The encore was a fun and unexpected, 50’s style rave-up style Ripple.
In a nutshell, this show smoked with powerful performances by all and a lot of satisfied fans who played a bargain price to be entertained and to benefit a great cause!
Phil Lesh continues this run at TXR with Thunder & Lightning performing Bombs and Ballads over the next 2 nights featuring Stu Allen, Scott Law, Ross James, Scott Guberman and Alex Korford.