Saturday, July 15, 2006
Ratdog Incident @ Radio City
The meeting of Bob Weir's Grateful Dead music and the upbeat, lithe jams of Colorado's String Cheese Incident has already been one of the summer-tour season's high points. Each night as the bands have zigzagged around the country, they've switched off headlining responsibilities. Last night, Ratdog were the opener, which seemed the better of the two configurations. Unfortunately, some Ratdog fans left early and missed the closing collaboration.
Unaware that Ratdog hit the stage at 7 pm, I arrived late. Following lengthy versions of "Sugaree" and "Throwing Stones," Ratdog were joined by the nearly ancient harmony group the Persuasions on Weir's "Liberty" and a beautiful a capella version of "Black Muddy River."
(The set began with "Casey Jones," "Minglewood Blues" > "She Belongs to Me," "Brown-Eyed Women," "Crazy Fingers," "Big Iron, "Victim or the Crime," "Uncle John's Band" > "The Other One.")
Last year, SCI ambitiously organized the Big Summer Classic, a multi-band tour that included Umphrey's McGee and Spearhead. This summer's SCI progam has been pared down to two bands, which leaves more time for longer sets by each one. Opening with "Way Back Home," "Restless Wind" and "Sometimes a Woman," SCI pinballed between world beats, funk, jazz and their most comfortable genre, bluegrass, with guitarist Michael Kang occasionally switching to mandolin and violin. After "Miss Brown's Teahouse" gave way to "Land's End," singer Bill Nershi simply stated, "This is for Syd," and the band launched into a tribute to the fallen Pink Floyd founder, Syd Barrett.
SCI's choice of "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" prompted Ratdog's return, making it a full dozen players together on stage. To top it off, they finished with a hearty "I Know You Rider." This true melding of the Grateful Dead and String Cheese Incident spirits was warmly received by the appreciative crowd, which sang along ("gonna miss me when I'm gone") as the clock nearly struck midnight.
Tonight's the final SCI/Ratdog show, with SCI opening, at Tweeter Center in Mansfield, MA. The next 12 dates of the SCI tour are mostly solo shows, with the exception of opener Railroad Earth on the last three.
This review is also available at TimesSquare.com
SCI PHOTO BY NATURE55