Phil Lesh & Friends

Central Park Summerstage, NYCJ

Phil Lesh
Central Park SummerStage
New York, NY,  September 5 2018
Article & Photos By Dennis Morgillo​

The Punk meets The Grateful Dead

I have always been a fan of the Grateful Dead’s music, but I have never attended a Dead show of any kind. I looked fondly from afar at the lifestyle, but it was not my scene. I was drawn to the dark side of life. Dirty, gritty New York City, in your face music, such as Lou Reed, NY Dolls & The Ramones.   

As I get older, I let go of my hangups. Music is music, and I am going to see Phil Lesh & Friends in Central Park!  

When I get to Central Park, I just follow the mushroom cloud of weed to get to the SummerStage. As is the norm at most concerts that I cover, I am allowed to photograph the first 3 songs. This usually takes 9 minutes. Not tonight, tonight it takes 45 minutes. I am exhausted and my battery is dying. 

With a nod to NYC, the band opens with The Lou Reed classic “Sweet Jane” and then into Smokey Robinson’s “I Second That Emotion”. Great versions of both. I wasn’t expecting this, but I am very happy. 
 
It is very cool to be this close to Phil Lesh. This man is a legend and he looks like one hell of a nice guy. The Grateful Dead are rock royalty. For over 30 years, they performed over 2,300 concerts with Jerry Garcia and are still going strong in one form or another.  Lesh was at Monterey, Woodstock and Altamont. Lesh is the embodiment of the 60’s. He has seen it all and done it all. 

This band pays homage to “The Grateful Dead”, but adds their own style and exuberance. It’s a big family party up on the stage. Three guitarists, drums, keyboards, and a female vocalist. Plus everyone sings lead and beautiful harmonies. Lesh is a great solid bass player and lays down some fine, intricate licks. Jerry Garcia was a great player with his own unique style, but this bands blends Jerry’s sound with some searing screeching Rock n Roll leads.   
The band is tight, full of smiles and energy. They are having a lot of fun up there. Grahame Lesh on Guitar and Vocals, Ross James on Guitar and Vocals, Eric Krasno on Guitars and Vocals, Alex Koford on Drums and Vocals, Jason Crosby on Keys and Vocals and the beautiful and talented Nicki Bluhm on Vocals, dancing and tambourine.
 
It’s an amazing show, with a cool peaceful vibe in the crowd. This may be the first concert I have ever been to where there wasn’t a fist fight in the crowd. Phil Lesh & Friends run through a mix of Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia songs. “New Minglewood Blues”, “Brown Eyed Women”. A short intermission for the band to go back to the bus and play scrabble and have some tea and then Set 2.

“Truckin”!  the crowd goes crazy, I am taken back to a place I have never been and I love it. “Sugar Magnolia”, “Scarlet Begionias” and “Fire on the Mountain”. I love it more. They close the set with an incredible version of Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall”. The encore is The Dead classic “Brokedown Palace”. 

I am a fan now. Can I call myself a Dead Head? Man I wish I got to see the Dead back in the day. All I know is that I loved Phil Lesh & Friends, and I am going to be checking out my Dead back catalog and listening to nothing but Grateful Dead music for the next week. Thanks Phil.
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