Last night, Phil Lesh and the Terrapin Family Band performed for the second of three nights at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York with a little help from uber-talented guests Karl Denson (The Greyboy Allstars, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe) and Jimmy Herring (Aquarium Rescue Unit, Widespread Panic). The stage was crowded with nine musicians on board for the entirety of the evening. The Terrapin Family Band began at Phil Lesh’s Terrapin Crossroads and has expanded naturally beyond the realm of their original repertoire of Grateful Dead music.
Last night’s lineup included Lesh on bass, his son Grahame Lesh on guitar, Alex Koford on guitar, Jason Crosby on keyboards, Ross James on guitar, Nathan Graham on drums, and Elliot Peck infusing delicate vocals to the sound. Add multi-instrumentalist sensation Karl Denson on saxophone, flute, and any other percussive instrument he is able to get his hands on, as well as rock-star shredder Jimmy Herring, and the result is one helluva night.
Starting off slowly, the band rolled into “Mason’s Children”, the Hunter & Garcia tune about the tragedy at Altamont. Before Peck’s vocals led the band through a sizzlin’ rendition of “New Speedway Boogie” with Herring electrifying on his custom, black-and-white Fender Stratocaster. Lesh stepped to the microphone next to conduct a dreamy “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo”, which gave way to a heart-wrenching version of “Wharf Rat.” “Wharf Rat” was debuted at The Capitol Theatre in February 1971 and has always been a crowd favorite. Last night, the band did the tune justice, with Koford on lead vocals.
James then stepped up to belt out a rowdy version of Barlowe & Weir’s “Throwin’ Stones”, and kept the political tone going with a cover of Neil Young’s “Ohio.” Koford remained at lead vocals for a stirring “Ship of Fools”, before closing the set with a segmented “Unbroken Chain”, with many interlude jams mixed in this Lesh concoction. “Unbroken Chain” featured Denson on saxophone and later on to flute to create a suave interplay with Herring’s guitar licks. Many teases were noticed, including a couple of measures of The Meters’ “Ain’t No Use”, as well as Neil Young’s “Southern Man”.
The stacked line-up of musicians sauntered back on stage to play one of two incomplete combinations, foreshadowing tonight’s set-list. Grahame Lesh on vocals carried the band through Hunter & Garcia’s “Help on the Way > Slipknot”, before the band segued into an intense, psychedelic progression of Barlowe’s “Let It Grow” with Grahame Lesh on lead instead of the customary “Franklin’s Tower” combination.
Peck shared a sentimental duet with Phil Lesh for Hunter & Garcia’s “Mountains on the Moon” before segueing into “Scarlet Begonias.” The band chose not to follow with the traditional “Fire on the Mountain.” Instead, Graham Lesh led the nine-headed machine through a complete Terrapin Suite with a rare “Jack O’Roses” opening. Keeping the jams coming, the band breezed through a momentous “Lady with a Fan” into a inspiring “Terrapin Station”, with Elliot Peck’s vocals meshing nicely with the voices of the father and son duo. Grahame Lesh closed the movement with the reprise of “Jack O’Roses” with zest and swagger.
The entire stage, and audience, embraced a heartwarming “Uncle John’s Band”, with the lyrics resonating for miles. To close the second set, Peck and Denson shared lead vocals for a lively cover of Wilson Pickett’s “In the Midnight Hour.” Over the course of the night, Denson displayed many of his talents, as his vocal and multi-instrumentalist performances shone equally bright.
As an encore, the nine-piece all-star cast of musicians returned to the stage to play a juicy cover of Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young’s “Almost Cut my Hair”, with Elliot Peck’s vocals unmatched.
The band returns to the Capitol Theatre tonight to finish what they started and to complete their Phil-O-Ween run. Doors open 6:30 pm, show starts at 8 o clock sharp. Jimmy Herring will be accompanying this badass group once more tonight, so if you can get there, you should do so. You will not regret it.
SET LIST: 11/1/18- Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band with special guests Jimmy Herring & Karl Denson
Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, NY
Phil Lesh (bass)
Ross James (guitar)
Grahame Lesh (guitar)
Alex Koford (guitar)
Jason Crosby (keyboards)
Nathan Graham (drums)
Elliott Peck (vocals)
Jimmy Herring (guitar)
Karl Denson (sax, flute, percussion)
Mason’s Children – GL/PL/AK
New Speedway Boogie – EP
Mississippi Half Step – PL >
Wharf Rat – AK >
Throwin Stones – RJ
Ohio – AK >
Ship of Fools – AK >
Unbroken Chain – PL
Help on the Way – GL >
Let It Grow – GL
Mountains of the Moon – PL/EP >
Scarlet Begonias – GL/AK/EP
Jack O’Roses – GL >
Lady With A Fan – GL/EP/PL >
Terrapin Station – GL/EP/PL >
Jack o’Roses reprise – GL
Uncle John’s Band – All
Midnight Hour – EP/KD
E: Almost Cut My Hair – AK