The Daze Between Band formed for a higher purpose than simply helping give music fans something to do in the lull between epic weekends during the massive annual New Orleans Jazz And Heritage Festival. Originally, the promoters and performers (including members of The Allman Brothers Band, Widespread Panic, Gov’t Mule, Lettuce, Soulive, Col. Bruce Hampton’s Aquarium Rescue Unit and more) were gathered to help honor the memory of the late Butch Trucks, who died early this year. However, with the passing of the legendary Bruce Hampton on Monday, the show found it’s emotional impetus significantly magnified.
The show was held in the heart of the French Quarter at One Eyed Jacks, the venerable club that has hosted so many incredible shows over the decades, though likely few as emotionally drenched as the one it saw Wednesday. New Orleans itself was another kind of drenched as the capacity crowd and the city itself was soaked in a flood-level deluge of rain from on high. With emotions running high for music fans and the musicians slated to perform, it was strangely fitting that even the skies themselves were nigh inconsolable.
The music community has had since January to process the death of Trucks, and had moved forward to a state of healing. Hampton’s truly shattering passing during the finale of his own sold-out, worldwide simulcast birthday show, however, was as fresh and raw a wound as any ever inflicted on the jam band and festival community. With multiple members of the Colonel’s famed and influential Aquarium Rescue Unit among the band, as well as Allman alumni, the backstage atmosphere buzzed, but still tinged with still fresh, emotional wounds.
DJ Soul Sister warmed up the crowd with a free-flowing set of expertly mixed and dropped snippets of tunes that spanned decades. Her deft ability to match tempos and maintain and build energy was a perfect reception for the wet and wild-eyed music fans who came pouring into One Eyed Jacks that evening. New arrivals dried themselves as best they could, hit the bars, and packed every nook and cranny of the club with eager eyes and open ears, ready for a night of surpries and jams for the ages.
Promoter Paul Levine handled the introductions for the band, shouldering the bittersweet task of explaining the heart of the night’s ensuing celebration. The all-star band walked onstage to a deafening cheer born of pure passion. Fans ready to travel to a Wednesday, 1a.m. show down cobblestone streets in a fierce lightning storm to stand in line for the opening of the doors under dumping gutters are not the kind of people who do things halfway.
Luckily for those music aficionados the players making the way to their instruments were not there to do anything but their absolute best. They were playful with each other as they performed their final tunings, but the atmosphere was clearly one of professionals preparing to do what they do so very well.
Eric Krasno and Scott Metzger started off the evening on guitar, trading licks with knowing looks of respect and anticipation. The all-star rhythm section of Panic’s Duane Trucks alongside former ARU drummer Jeff Sipe and Snarky Puppy percussionist Nate Werth provided more than enough depth and diversity to handle some of the more challenging material on the evening’s daunting set list.
Opening with a classic song from the Allman’s songbook “Trouble No More,” The Motet‘s Lyle Divinsky showed off his amazingly passionate vocal skills while flanked by longtime Allman Brothers bassist Oteil Burbridge. The unconscious smiles and knowing nods Burbridge gave Divinsky as he sang served as all the approval a veteran could give someone to a greener artist attempting the piece.
After a stellar take on “Dreams,” the whispered rumors turned true and Burbridge’s Allman cohort Warren Haynes joined the ferocious crew to raving cheers from all the fans in the audience, whether or not they’d heard the quickly-spreading rumors of his presence at the show. After a quick tune-up, he lead the incredible cast of characters through a monumental 30-minute “Scarlett Begonias” that flowed beautifully into its natural partner in crime, “Fire On The Mountain.”
Haynes, who has served time in post-Jerry Garcia Dead projects off an on over the years, showed once again why he is one of the most respected and beloved guitarists of this or any generation. His performance was spot on, perfectly capturing the spirit of both the tunes and the evening itself.
You can watch the 27 minute performance below, thanks to our own man on the scene, videographer Rex Thomson. There is a stunning gallery from celebrated photog Josh Timmermans and pro-shot footage from videographer John Peckham on the way, but for now our roving reporter has some footage that truly captures what it was like to be front row in the middle of the mayhem.
“Scarlet Begonias>Fire On The Mountain”
A second pair of Allman Brothers classics, “Whipping Post” and “Mountain Jam” closed out the first set. The second set was more of the same silky goodness as the first, including some stellar takes on “West LA Fadeaway and “Hot ‘Lanta.” The set closer was an emotional moment for those on the stage, as well as several in the crowd…a gripping “Lovelight.”
That choice of set closer was almost mandatory, as it was during his show-closing rendition of the beloved Bobby Blue Bland tune that the Colonel had left this lane of reality onstage at the Fox Theatre earlier that week. That fateful show was put together in large part by Duane Trucks, and Haynes was one of the closest to the Colonel proximity-wise during his final moments.
The room was filled with the most dedicated of music fans and industry insiders, many of whom had been at the Hampton 70 show in Atlanta when Col. Bruce passed on. The two days since the fateful last song had seen several of them returning from the show to share desperate hugs and tears with the many many fans mourning the departed Colonel. Everyone from Jam Cruise luminary Annabel Stelling to George Porter Jr. were doing all they could to keep a brave face while still reeling.
Amazingly, choosing to close out this show with the same song caused a true miracle. The raw emotion in the air at One Eyed Jacks went through a sort of sonic alchemy, summoning not gold from lead, but joy from sorrow. The frustration and pain gave way to dancing and embraces from front to back of the room. The cheers and tears as the band took their bows shook the walls of One Eyed Jacks
Upon their return to the stage, the musicians honored what would surely have been the Colonel’s wishes and gave the folks an appropriately upbeat closing number, the Meters classic “Hey Pocky Way.” From the first notes, the crowd was electrified. You could likely have powered the entire city from the sheer waves of love and postivity emanating from the quarter.
Much of the magic is do the the efforts of Eric Krasno, the band leader and organizer of the evening. He had already put in dozens of hours recruiting players and selecting material to honor the late Trucks and also lean towards the players varied strengths. With the surprise death on Monday he was approached by show co-promoter Levine about the possibility of using the opportunity to incorporate the memory of the beloved Colonel to the proceedings.
When we spoke with Krasno after the show he offered that he was delighted for the opportunity to give the musicians and the audience an opportunity to grieve and heal. “I was just so glad we already had this show in place,” he said, “because all these fans had so much in them that they needed to work out.” His immediate reaction to agree to reworking parts of his plans to help the music community come together and work through their sorrow showed an emotional death far beyond the already epic guitar leads he played on the stage.
As tributes to musicians and their legacies go, this was surely one of the finest that has ever occurred. Legacies are important in the music industry as in life, and those left behind by the late Trucks and Hampton will last far beyond the fading last notes of this magnificent night. But for now, the celebration of these luminaries and their life’s works was exactly what was needed to help the healing begin.
A special thanks to the promoters, musicians, the staff at One Eyed Jacks and the crowd itself for all uniting in this moment that will, honestly, live in my heart forever.
Daze Between Band | One Eyed Jacks | New Orleans, LA | 5/3/17
Set I: Trouble No More, Dreams, Scarlett Begonias, Fire On The Mountain, Whipping Post, Mountain Jam
Set II: West LA Fadeaway, Hot ‘Lanta, Eyes Of The World, Elizabeth Reed, Sugaree, Lovelight
Encore: Hey Pocky Way