The Mighty High
Vasa Park, Budd Lake, NJ
Featuring the New Riders Of The Purple Sage and Dark Star Orchestra.
What a great day! As close to perfect as one can get. Create A Vibe, the same group that used to run the Mexicali Blues Café in Teaneck, NJ, put on this show. If you ever saw a show at the Mexicali you understand how they do things the right way. The concert goer is treated with respect and given some room to have fun. Just don’t have too much fun, get stupid and wreck it for someone else. A super kind situation for all.
We got there about a half hour before the NRPS came on. Somehow I didn’t do so well with the directions as we got off the trail a bit. When I realized we were messed up I told my brother to pull up beside the car at the light and ask them if they knew where Vasa Park was. As we pulled up we noticed Dark Star Orchestra stickers on the back of their car – sweet, they will know where to go. Turns out all we had to do was take a left at the light and the park was right down the street. Classic, right when we think we are lost, we are actually right where we need to be. We pull up and they direct us down the road a bit, arriving at a mowed field surrounded by trees. We passed a lot of houses that were located in?/beside the park. Once there we paid $3.00 and parked. The attendant let us know they had shuttle vans to take us back up to the concert area if we didn’t want to walk. We got out stuff ready and grabbed a ride, not having to wait at all. The woman that drove our van lived right there and gave us a brief history of the neighborhood. All the locals that I spoke to thought out the day seemed excited this was going on. Seems they party a lot there and have several things at this park – one being a large Scandinavian festival. Always nice to attend a place that is excited to have you. Makes a big difference in the atmosphere of the day.
They had a very minimal search, and then a short wait at the next table for the tickets. A woman there kept saying they were sorry for the wait. I only waited about three minutes in line to get my pass. Another example of how nice the workers were at this event. The situation didn’t merit an apology, yet they did anyway.
Once inside the park they had a row of food vendors on the right hand side and then a row of arts/crafts vendors to the left going up the hill. Walk just a little bit more and there was the stage. The soundboard was located in the pavilion, which was just up a very short hill that was sloped just right for dancing. Trees were present and they provided shade from the sun, or something to lean on. Down the way a bit was a beer truck and another building that sold drinks. They also had a merchandise table set up. Everybody could find a place they liked and the lines were never long, no matter what you were getting. As I said earlier, as close to perfect as one can get.
We found a spot by a tree, just a few feet right of the soundboard. They had a big stack of speakers set up, and sure enough the sound was great all day.
Here come the New Riders. Toast introduced the band, but before they started to play David Nelson remarked that next year they should it the Really, Really, Really High Festival. A few steps up from the Mighty High! Who am I to disagree, sound good!
Here is what they played.
Rocky Road Blues, I Don’t Know You, Contract, Ghost Train Blues, Whatcha Gonna Do, Higher, Deep Elem Blues, Blues Barrel, Louisiana Lady, Down The Middle, Friend Of The Devil, Glendale Train
(whole set with Rob Koritz on second drums.)
This was a great set of music. Much better then the shortened set they did at the Vibes the week before. Not that the actual playing at the Vibes was bad it was just short. Hearing a few extra songs makes a big difference. Ghost Train Blues is my new favorite song and if they play it at every show I go to I won’t complain. The jams they get going on this one are down and dirty, greasy almost. Higher seemed appropriate for day. I know I was. Deep Elem wasn’t as jammed out as some of the recent version where guests sat in, but it snakes along real good. I think the highlight of the set for me was the kind-of-I Know You Rider jam out of Friend Of The Devil into Glendale Train. They really got a good boil going there. Overall, a great set of music that seemed well liked by the concertgoers that arrived in time to hear the band. Many more folks would slowly arrive, as DSO got closer to playing. Thanks NRPS for the good time!
There was about an hour break as they got the stage ready for DSO. Time for a few more beers.
The second part of the festival. Dark Star Orchestra. I had only seen this band once before in New Haven and that night they played an original setlist. Today they did the same thing, so I have yet to hear a re-created set list, but maybe that is for the better. I am not sure I would enjoy the music if I knew what song was coming next. For this day of music, I had no idea what was next and that is part of the fun for me. One of these days I will see a re-created show and then I can compare the two experiences. So far though I have to say that this band plays Grateful Dead really good, great at times. And it seems like the folks there are getting off on it also, so it is working it would seem. Young and old were on their feet dancing the day away, smiling and whooping it up. What else does one need?
Here are some of the songs they played – at least the ones I can remember at this time. Not listed in the correct order and some songs may be listed in the wrong set, but you get the idea.
US Blues, Greatest Story, Ramble On Rose, Cosmic Charlie, Big Iron, Cumberland Blues, Help, Slipknot, Franklins, Masterpiece, Built To Last, Lazy Lightning, Supplication
Not Fade Away, Estimated, Alligator, Drums, Space, WRS Part One, WRS Prelude, Let It Grow, Sing Me Back Home, Dark Star(2nd verse), Alligator, GDTRFB,NFA encores: Waiting For A Miracle, How Sweet It Is
Highlights for me were Big Iron and Cumberland Blues. Built To Last – which was sung just great. A barn burning Lazy Lightning, Supplication. Drums with Johnny Markowski and someone else – the old tribal beat stomping once again. It had been a long time since I heard some drums and they felt good. The encores. I had forgotten they often will play a Jerry Band song or two, so this was a treat. A nice nod to the man that was a big part of the music for so many of us. Overall a great day of music. They did sell a VIP ticket which included an indoor show with the Zen Tricksters playing. We had to get out of there so my brother could get up early on Sunday to get back to Vermont, so you will have to look elsewhere for a review of that part of the festivities. I am sure it was a real good time.
As we were leaving I told my brothers that we caught some lighting in a bottle. A perfect day. Next year more folks will know about this and it will get a little bigger. I know I will do my best to go again. See you there!
Thanks to everyone that made the day what it was.
Rock and Roll!
you summed it up nice, really would like to see this next year if they pull it off...
Awesome review John!
Great time at the Mighty High yesterday! John summed it up perfectly. Looking forward to next year.
looks like this is the correct setlist. it was posted on the DSO board. makes sense now that I see it in this order.
US Blues, Greatest Story, Ramble On Rose, Big Iron, Cumberland Blues, Cosmic Charlie, Masterpiece, Built To Last, Lazy Lightning, Supplication, Help, Slipknot, Franklins
Not Fade Away, Estimated, Dark Star(2nd verse), Alligator, Drums, Space, WRS Part One, WRS Prelude, Let It Grow, Sing Me Back Home, Alligator, GDTRFB,NFA encores: Waiting For A Miracle, How Sweet It Is
Nice review JHT and couldn't agree more! The "someone else" on the DSO drums was Dave Diamond, Zen Tricksters drummer. You can see my post on Other Stuff for my review of the fest and the Tricksters' set.
>>The "someone else" on the DSO drums was Dave Diamond, Zen Tricksters drummer
ah. should have thought of that. Wish I could have stayed for the Tricksters set. Next year.
hey john, really you captured it, really. I had a great time, thanks to rich, and the surviving red ~n~ white ballons...ya know they lasted all day. Met the most beautiful of people, Encounters of every kind...just amazing. For me the highlight was " Sing me back home"...jus totally brought me to where i needed to be, today. I got kinda lost ( really can't take me off the farm..hehe )goin ther and did'nt get in till DSO jus came on...so drivin 2 hrs back to s jerzee, not an option. We got a hotel room for the night and bunkered down...
In the am were leavin and the Tour bus is in the lot NRPS...my niece say's... wow, (she's 14...wuz first festi, she plays guitar) can i go say hi, ummm sure jess go ahead...she wuz in heaven....imagine at 14...the real highlight was the look on her face while the music was playin......ohh, and we danced a 'lil too...hehehe
will definatly do this festi again...a 'lil more prepared next time...