Friday, February 19, 2010

Going "Furthur"

Furthur is the latest re-incarnation (pun intended) of the Grateful Dead. This version of the band takes their name from a bus. I know I don't have to explain this to Deadheads, but for others, it might almost be interesting.

In 1964, Ken Kesey bought a 1939 International Harvester bus for use by him and his "associates" known as the Merry Pranksters. For more on those days and Ken and the Merry Pranksters, Tom Wolfe's (barely) fictional book "The Electric Acid Kool Aid Test" is classic reading.

Anyway, the Dead and Kesey and the Pranksters were constant companions back in the early days. And, the name fits the current band in another way. Phil and Bobby have been playing together for about 45 years now - a lot "Furthur" down the road than they probably ever imagined.

Jerry, Bobby and Billy even referenced Furthur in the song "That's It For the Other One":

Escapin' through the lily fields
I came across an empty space
It trembled and exploded
Left a bus stop in its place
The bus came by and I got on
That's when it all began
There was cowboy Neal
At the wheel
Of a bus to never-ever land

The "bus" is a reference to Furthur. "Cowboy Neal" was a reference to Neal Cassady, a friend of Jack Kerouac's (Dean Moriarty in "On The Road" is Neal) and a frequent driver of Furthur.

King Crimson even wrote a song in tribute to Neal with "Neal and Jack and Me".

Allen Ginsburg referred to Neal as "N.C." in his immortal poem "Howl".

No matter how much I've read Kerouac or Wolfe, I wish I could have been there to at least see the craziness of those days. It's undoubtedly romanticized these days, but at the very least, it had to have been interesting.

But, back to the show...

Phil and Bobby have added some younger blood in this version of the band, including the leader of a Dead cover band that I've seen many times - Dark Star Orchestra. They added the "Jerry" from that band and he was a fine addition to their band last night.

The first set was pretty mellow until a rocking Sugaree to finish up. The second set started out great, slowed down a bit in the middle and then finished exceptionally strong. They closed with a common encore song for them - a cover of The Band's "The Weight". Here is the set list:

I: Feel Like a Stranger, Loose Lucy, It Must Have Been the Roses, Deep Elem Blues, Just a Little Light, Money for Gasoline, Loser, Sugaree
II: Jam > Truckin > Deal, Viola Lee Blues, Nobody Girl > Bird Song > Born Cross-Eyed > Scarlet Begonias > Fire on the Mountain, Sugar Magnolia
E: The Weight

They are playing smaller venues these days, and last night's show was set up in half of small indoor arena - probably no more than 5000 or so people. But, I would have to say that the faithful were not disappointed.

I didn't work out yesterday because of the show, but I'm going to lift after work tonight and then ski all weekend.

1 comment:

kZ said...

vintage "Other One" right here... I can't imagine that I'm the first to point you to for the best Dead collection on the planet - now with streaming!!

Hope to see you soon Damon.. maybe DRB? Til then, have fun on the slopes.

Kevin Z.