Didn't get home from the show last nite until 3:30 am (after a 1.5-hour drive home), and am just now getting around to feeling human. Surprised that nobody's posted a review here yet. Guess I'll give it a shot. (Just saw that Rob posted some photos of the show over in Other Stuff.)
The latest incarnation of the Avalon AllStars totally ROCKED the house last night at the Red Fox Tavern. This was the first night of a two-show run billed as “How Sweet It Is” -- An Avalon Allstar's tribute to Jerry Garcia. And, I'm happy to say, the band largely did justice to this ambitious billing. The last time the AllStars played as a group -- in this same venue back on 12-7-06 and 12-8-06 -- they had a totally different lineup except for Melvin Seals on keys. This version of the band consisted of Melvin, Stu Allen, Martin Fierro, Greg Anton, and Liam Hanrahan. The advertised "special guests" ended up being local guitar wiz Ruben Diaz, who sat in the entire show from start to finish.
A fairly packed house -- perhaps 175-200 or so in attendance -- energetically engaged the band, with lots of familiar faces, everybody groovin', and perma-smiles all around. Stu just gets better on guitar every time I see him, and his volcal leads were similarly impressive. Melvin's B-3 was nicely up front in the mix throughout the evening, and he was definitely up to the task on this night. Martin was Martin -- he played nicely inspired sax solos and fills most of the time (also some cool percussion work on tambourine and various shakers), but on at least a couple occasions his solo turns were buzzkills. Surprised to see Martin, center-stage, sitting in a chair for most of the evening except for the opening tunes of the first and second sets. Greg was rock solid on drums, nothing fancy as usual but laying down a killer backbeat. Liam was stoic and all business on the bass, laying just the right foundation for the evening's proceedings. Ruben Diaz was better than I've seen him in a while -- he's tight pals with Melvin, and he laid off the heavy Santana-like Latin rhythms for the most part, which interplayed nicely with Stu's and Melvin's riffing.
Here's what I was able to piece together for a setlist. Hopefully somebody else can help fill in the gaps.
Red Fox Tavern
Merl's Boogie (instrumental)
(I'm A) Road Runner
That's What Love Will Make You Do *
(unknown bouncy bluesy instrumental tune)
It's No Use @
Get Out My Life Woman
(not sure of this one) @ #
Don't Let Go > Whipping Post jam > Don't Let Go
How Sweet It Is
* Melvin on lead vocals
@ Martin on lead vocals
# when this song started, Martin did some cool but unintelligible scat-singing, and I wrote it down as Think (a.k.a., Just In Case We Both Were Wrong), but then it morphed into a tune with Martin singing a chorus that ended with the words Baby Please Don't Go
The fairly sparse setlist is deceiving, as each song lasted 15+ minutes with plently of jamming spread around. Typically each tune was crammed with inspired jamming and soloing, with Stu, Melvin, Martin and Ruben trading lead licks. Lonely Avenue was cookin' until Martin played a pan flute solo, which killed the buzz for me temporarily -- but he made a nice recovery with a rippin' sax solo near the end of the song, followed by a very cool bass solo (the only time Liam stepped out all night). TWLWMYD ended with a lusty audience sing-along going into the intermission. For me the highlight of the evening was Don't Let Go and the ensuing killer jamming. The show-closer was also very nice -- by that time it was 1:45 am and there was no time for an encore. In all, I estimate there was about 2.5 hours of music.
I didn't see any microphones at the venue, and on my way out after the show I passed by the soundboard and asked the sound guy how many decks had a SBD patch for the show. He told me nobody recorded the show, but he seemed preoccupied and I was pretty buzzed, so I don't know if he was pulling my leg or not. Needless to say, it'd be a shame if the show wasn't taped.
In another 7 hours I'll be back at the Red Fox, ready for round 2. Hope they forge new territory tonight and don't repeat too many songs. After Friday's performance, I believe the boys were holding back just a bit, and look forward to bigger and better things tonight. Onward.
Great review Garyfish! Sounds like a fantastic night out.
Have fun again tonight!
Just a setlist this time, folks. No time for a full-blown review. Pretty much kickass all the way through. I'm off to Forestville in about 6 hours to get me some pre-Hawaii DNF!!!
Red Fox Tavern
The Harder They Come
Knockin' On Heaven's Door
Dig A Pony
Set 2: #
In Memory of Elizabeth Reed
(tequila shots for the band!)
Positively 4th Street
Melvin Seals: keys, background vocals
Stu Allen: lead guitar, lead vocals
Martin Fierro: tenor sax, tambourine, shaker percussion, pan flute, background vocals
Greg Anton: drums
Liam Hanrahan: bass
# Set 2 with Ruben Diaz, guitar
Wow! Have fun tonight Garyfish. . .
Anyone have a review?
For pictures of both nights go here: http://www.philzone.org/cgi-bin/discus/board-auth. cgi?lm=1171209403&file=/287273/363259.html