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    Entries in Terrapin Crossroads (2)


    Ramble On...

    Friday afternoon is not an ideal time to travel to Terrapin Crossroads from Silicon Valley. As I cross the Golden Gate Bridge with a hint of the sunset's remnants on my left and the twinkling East Bay and City lights on my right, I'm trying to calm down. I realize I don't have much further to go, and don't want to miss the opener. As I pull into the familiar parking lot and am greeted by a guy waxing on about his political affiliations, I realize I AM so glad to be back at Terrapin. It had been a few months.

    The renovated Terrapin is a dressed up version of itself. It's still basically the same room, but is now decked out with seven chandeliers, wood floor, wood planks on the walls, windows (with Roman shades drawn) and industrial carpeting covering the stage. The lone bar is still in the far corner and a thick velvet drape still separates the entrance from the audience and stage. My guess is the capacity is around 400.

    I will confess that I get a little giddy before these shows. The atmosphere is so intimate and warm. The evening was one of four Rambles featuring Phil, Jackie Greene, Neal Casal, Adam McDougall and Tony Leone. I knew to expect a playlist dominated by Grateful Dead tunes peppered with a couple of this's and that's. They opened with Jack Straw (my husband's current favorite) and then Loser and Loose Lucy. My new friend, Angelo, asked if I was keeping track of the set list and I realized I wasn't. Sometimes I forget that the usual suspects who keep track of these things might not be at the show. Yikes, instead of riding with the rhythms, I had to pay attention.

    The second set opened with a gorgeous version of China Cat Sunflower followed by an I Know You Rider fake-out, and instead rolled into Scarlet Begonias with Neal on lead vocals. It was just a smokin' tune and mid way through it was comical and sweet to see Neal and Jackie look at each other intensely eye-to-eye for a long moment. I had to wonder if they were thinking, "dude, how does this one end or are we just gonna keep it going?" This is the stuff that happens at Terrapin -- up-close and right there and the crowd gets to be part of it. Coincidentally (or not), someone at the set break asked me which songs did I miss Jerry singing the most? The guy said his was "Scarlet Begonias." I didn't immediately have an answer, but a couple of days later, it occurred to me that Bird Song was one of the songs I really missed hearing Jerry sing.

    Two sweet non-Grateful Dead tunes sung by Neal were, Love The One You're With by CSNY and Wild Horses by The Rolling Stones. At the end of Wild Horses, a totally sullen-faced guy leans over and says in slurry words, "I cried through that whole song."

    Before the "donor rap" where Phil thanks the young organ donor (Cody) who saved his life he said, "take a look around, this is why we're here! Give each other a hug!" That is so Phil!!!

    The encore was a soulful Sugaree, sung from deep within Jackie. He injects an old-time blues and gospel flavor into that song in a way that makes the room stand still, and the crowd sway in unison. These are the moments I'll drive two-plus hours for in afternoon traffic. Completely uplifting, soul-warming and renewing.

    Next stop, Broomfield!



    Furthur Rides into Terrapin...


    Picture this... After you've had your hand stamped, you walk into a room that looks like a ten car garage. There's a stage comprised of 36" high risers that are 18 feet in front of you. There's one mirrored wall with a bar in front of it. There's carpeting on the floor. And that's it! That's the entire contents of the Grate Room.

    A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to visit Terrapin Crossroads twice in five days. Phil Lesh's new food and music venue on a small inlet in San Rafael is fresh and alive. I've now been there several more times and see that the place is attracting a group of regulars. Bob Weir casually sat on the stage and tuned his guitar and played around tweaking his foot pedals. The small crowd just stood and watched him, like it was any regular guitar player and this was any regular place. When he walked off stage to get ready for the show, the crowd applauded.

    Have you ever seen the Grateful Dead play in a large living room? This is sort of what it's like. I had been to Terrapin Crossroads before so I knew the size of the venue. My friend, Caren, a newbie, asked, "this is it, they're going to play right there, right in front of us?"

    Needless to say, it's quite something to see a band that often plays in hockey arenas or in festival venues play in a small night club. There's, of course, the BIG sound and the musician-icons who are usually so far away and so high up on a stage surrounded by so much stuff, security, gear, friends, fans, just right there a few feet in front of you doing that thing you love for them to do, that they love doing. It's a wild combination of good fortune that somehow gets a ticket in my hand and a trip across the Golden Gate Bridge to this little haven of a music Mecca tucked away in a row of car dealerships in Marin.