The Bitter End


Rennie and Friends Acing the Big Show

Acing it

We Aced It, what more needs to be said? I guess a little so here it is. After weeks of partying and practicing with the team Rennie brought to the party, Core Deadstein coupled with the women of Lovelight, Adam and Matt took on the songs from Bob Weir's Album Ace. We prepared to bring the freakin' love of music to the people and its was a super fun trip along the way. There was love, freak and music in the air that night and they all came together for a wonder night of music at the Bitter End. We don't play out often and friends and family packed the Bitter End to join us in this celebration Rennie put together.

Billed as a A 7pm-8pm show at Greenwich Village's famous Bitter End, the timing was good to treat it as any other Deadstein night. I wore the blue denim and black shirt as I was told, but that is my normal outfit. I didn't get the memo that the outfit color changed to black-on-black like Lovelight was wearing. No big deal, I felt comfotable in my outfit and my skin and it didn't impact my level of self-confidence too much. The band never looked better under the lights on the stage at the Bitter End with 3 swinging chicks singing and dancing to the music being played to the endearing audience. For this night the Bitter End was a room where the Lovelight was shining stong and shinging bright and everyone was there to enjoy the communal lovefest that we created with freak and music. Not an easy recipe to put together and deliver but somehow that's what we do and that's something you just don't learn at Juilard.

Arriving with Kathy by my side at 5:20, I saw Kevin waiting at the curb right in front of the closed Bitter End, which wouldn't open their doors to us for load-in until 6pm. Kevin was going to park in a public lot but I told him to hang there right in front of the place with me because parking became legal at 6pm. This is what we do every week any way on 54th Street by Carroll's. It gave us a window to the people coming to play and see us from the front seats of our cars. Kathy went off to grab a bite and eplore the neigborhood, and I waited until 6 with Kevin. It was great to park right in front of the place for free, havving access to the car eventhough load in and out was minimal. While waiting there in the car a mini line developed waiting for the doors to open at 6:30. By showtime, there was almost a Grateful Dead style mad rush to get through the doors trying not to miss the first note of the show. The security was only slowly letting people in the place. I don't think the Bitter End was ready for the Freakshow that came along with the Rennie and Friends Band as we packed the place like they weren't expecting.

Unlike the recent Tir Na Nog gig where we paid Carroll's to setup equipment, the Bitter End had a great setup for a one-drummer Deadstein experience with their equipment. My Fender Deluxe was excellent and so seemed the other instruuments and general sound of the stage. Funny enough the soundman from the Bitter End was named Justin beacuase as a soundman he's alway adjustin'. We did a 6:25 soundcheck for 1 minute and we opened the doors at 6:30 as the doors of the waiting people opened and the love poured in. Kevin's Allison was stuck in the so-called mad rush and not feeling the love on the outside. My Kathy was enjoying the Village before the show and I was worried that the Bitter End may sell out. She eventually met up with my Brother Jay and his Aly and Rachel, my niece. The place was packed, standing room only and we delivered a strong one-hour set of music. The entire Ace Album and a Not Fade Away encore. Scott Sharrard garciously joined in on the fun during the Playing in the Band and the Looks Like Rain. Epic stuff for mere mortals like us.

One thing we need is a left-hand monkey wrench

Due the the fact we were playig the Ace album, we have been struggling on whether to start the Greatest Story like the Album, Scott style, or Grateful Dead concert version, Kevin style. In classic Deadstein fashion it ended up being right down the middle each doing it their own way together. It happened to be not be a precursor for what was to follow as we got our shit together thereafter. I remeber screaming to Scott right at the end of Greatest Story to look to me for the ending as note he was dazing out to the right, but wrong side of the stage. That was a good moment in discipline that kept us focused a bit on professionalism.

Looking at you looking at me

The Black Thorated Wind was as I refer to as the peaceful Deadstein expereince as it was just Core Deadstein with Rennie at the front. It was a nice repreive into a little settling down and it also delivered as promised.

Even for us Deadstein folks who have been at this jamming thing for almost 30 years now, we are not often playing on stage, with stage lights shinging and in front of a seated crowd being served drinks and deeply focusing on the band. It is humbling and energizing. The ability to alter people's inner being with the strum of a chord and then change someone eles's with the pluck of a note working to bring them all toghether with you in a world of unison. It is something that is difficult to experience doing anything else.

Tryin' to find out what's right and what's wrong

The rest of the night we delved through the rest of the Album. The Ace project forced me to chart out and learn the Walk In the Sunshine. A dull but quick and easy song to play. I think I still messed up the ending compared to what we were trying for and in hind sight we should have figured out and executed the jam at the end of that song because there is a good jam for the taking at the end if we want it. This jam can turn that dull, quick and easy tune into a worthwhile experience. I'm just saying.

Tempo, Tempo / For the Record

According to Rich, who is always paranoid we play too fast using great disruption to body parts, the numbers show that we weren't that far off the tempos on the record. But we were faster than the album.

Beats Per Minute (BPM)

Song Title / Bitter End / Ace Record

Greatest Story / 160 / 153
Black Throated / 150 / 145
Walkin' Sunshine / 128 / 122
Playing in the Band / 130 / 122
Looks Like Rain / 150 / 140
Mexicali Blues / 210 / 204
One More Saturday Night / 156 / 165
Cassidy / 150 / 150

A man is just a man

The highlight of the album deserved the special guest and Rennie has fortunate enough to get Scott Sharrard, former guitarist for the Greg Allman Band, to sit in for a couple of numbers with us. He stepped on stage, asked to borrow my tuner and a guitar cable, and plugged into the unused amp and next to me. It didn't have a microphone to capture the multitrack sound but he was loud and sounded good so his tone carried the room but is difficult to discern in the multi-track recording. I am going to try to mix a rougher version of the video from the 2-track recording we had of the gig so we can better enjoy the music Scott Sharrad brought to the show.

It was Seven-Eight-Nine-Ten and we are playing in the band. This and Cassidy were the only true jams of the night and Playing jam was busy but enjoyable trying to get things going with Scott, but we did get it going and played some good music together. It was fun communicating closly with Scott trying to show him the struucture of the Playing as were were going through it. I think some of the quick turn arounds due to the 10-beat nature of the song caught him of guard at times during the singing of the song. We ended up executing the song pretty well. Cindy hilariously provided us the Donna scream leading back into the playing about 30 seconds too early. I think it was my fault becuase she asked me before the show if I could help her out on the timing of that and I refused thinking I had my own timing issues to be concerned with at that moment, but I don't think I could have stopped that offsides encroachmment penalty, no matter how I thought I would have helped her out. It was a great moment in the night, Thank you Cindy!

Gotten used to havin' you around

It is certainly great to play with such a professional like Scott Sharrard, even though he didn't have a tuner or a cord, and we were blessed he stayed on for his second song for the night and this one it seemed he was really ready to play. He picked up his slide and we slid into the lovely love song, Looks Like Rain. The lead was great, executed on slide and the ending vocal jam ended with an extended guitar jam featuring Scott which ws the hottest part of the night. It was a shame he might not be sleeping here again and looks like rain, but the show must go one.

This sad love song featured Sweets By Alissa and Rennie while being backed by Scott S. and the rest of Deadstein. You can hear Alissa whisper she is terrified just before we went into it like we just left the station of a roller coaster. Following a long twisting and trilling adventure the Looks Like Rain coaster rolled back to the station. We all got off, literally and, safe and sound. The Sweet Ace cookies and the backups were all gratefully apperciated.

Girls who giggle when I smile

Oh the dichotemy of it all, you always are striving for producing the best music you can but working on this Ace project really illuminated the other element of it all, love, fun and enjoyment. I understand without the very strong foundation with Core-Deadstein provides it would be difficult to raise that fun as high as we do, but fun's pursuit is as worthy of consideration alongside the quality of the music no? It's what Deadstein has been about for 30 year and it works for us, most of the time. The enjoyment of leading the enjoyment of the others as Deadstein and Lovelight, as well as Adam annd Matt, have expereinced was fun despite the challenges it adds to the whole Deadstein expereince. We need to figure out how to bottle and sell that experience because there is no elixir like bottled joy.

Follwoing the racous jam at the end of Looks Like Rain, the stage seemed smaller, the expections from thhe audience seemed higher and we were embarking on a more challenging song in front of us, Mexicali. When we first started I was pleased with the sound of it, the band was more delicate than it was 2 minutes earlier and the song really grooved and kept the people engaged. Whew, made it through the Mexicali and no one left.

The place is gonna fly

It was time to begin to rock the house and One More Saturday Night is such a brilliant song to do that with. It is a rocker about playing music in front of a packed house, be it on a Saturday night not Tuesday night, but who is splitting hairs?

Let the words be yours

So I ramble on about my expereince from my perspective, but everyone tavels their own path and takes and gives what they do. This was a great team effort and without the team, Adam, Matt, Lovelight and Rennie quarterbacking, the Defense of Core-Deadstin couldn't deliver on the total expereince that this Ace project presented us. The win we pulled off was tremedously rewarding making you want to experience it more and more.

Bob Weir said Cassidy is his best song he has written. It's a good one, not my number one but it always goes places and is an interesting song. We gave it its due with the double whip. and Doo-Do-Do-dee-do-do-do flight of the seabird, scattered like lost words, wheel to the storm and fly. The needle takes a final spin to the lable and returns to its resting spot and Ace is toast.

Love Is Real Not Fade Away

Sadly, all good things must come to a close, you inevitably come down unless you continue to build and reinforce the foundation on which you stand. Music won't susitain without fun and the fun won't sustain unless it's built on a foundation of good music.

When faced with the choice of a closer follwoing the planned Ace Album I chose fun over music, Not Fade Away over the Feel Like a Stranger otherwise being considered. The Not Fade would give Lovelight one last time to shine before the expereince came to it's conclusion.

Wrap Up

Never thought I would get to the wrap up but I stayed for the Barrret "Zinn" Gross show following us in which Barret uses the Garland Jeffries backup band to back him up, much like Rennie used Deadstein to back him up. Garland was there to check out his band and even sang a song during the set which I captured and posted on Youtube. I felt very good about Deadstein holding it's own, completing quite successfully on the same little stage. There is no problem for us up there. I capped of the night with a trip to John's Pizzeria before heading back to Jersey.

I really appreciate the fact the Rennie was able to score the multi-track USB stick from the soundman eventhough it didn't record Adam, Matt or Scott Sharrard, but I did the best I could with what I had. I got home got the original Youtube video up for people to see and had to get prepared for the standard Deadstein jam on Thurday night, two nights away with Andy. The Music Never Stopped.

Freak Out!