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Phil Lesh and Friends Mardi Gras Spectacular
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium SF, CA
12 February 2005 - Part 1


Click to see lots more pix from the show

Prologue: Sound Museum

For a fleeting moment, I understood what Phil must have meant when he
described headlining after a Miles Davis opener in 1970 as giving the
Deadheads the meat-and-potatoes after they’d already had their ice cream
It was twelve years ago, the last time the Grateful Dead attempted a
Mardi Gras show and parade. Covered by a makeshift tarp under the pouring
rain for hours holding a place in line, we received a harbinger for great
things to come: a damp flyer announcing special guest Ornette Coleman,
contemporary of Miles and Coltrane, and a Neil Armstrong of Jazz.
With Ornette donning debonair turquoise sequins and his world fusion
ensemble placing an interstellar flag somewhere in the craterous terrain of
our brains, Jerry wandered into the background with the Irwin Wolf humming
like souped-up 65 Mustang, Parish having dropped and broken Rosebud that

There was absolutely no way they could ever top this.

Sometime during Iko Iko, the entire coliseum morphing into a cosmic
fish bowl, complete with resplendent angel fish and Wavy Gravy at the helm
of a pirate ship like some psychedelic swashbuckler, I realized I was a part
of something very special…

…and there was absolutely no way they could ever top this.

Set One: "Dressed myself in green..."

3:30. Three hours before showtime. There’s Phil Lesh admiring the
ornamental majesty of the floats, grinning from ear-to-wonderful-ear. His
wife Jill is there too, encouraging one of the teams. And of course, there’s
the crown prince of the counter culture Wavy Gravy, the man who’d hit me
square in the nose with a strand of purple beads twelve years before.
With the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium such a veritable hive of
activity, artisans buzzing around making last-minute preparations for the
Mardi Gras festivities, the Rider nearly forgot there was some music to be

Theryl “Houseman” DeClouet from Galactic on vocals, the band emerged to
PARTY, paired with a mellifluous PLAYIN’ IN THE BAND. “I can tell your
future…” Bobby commented, “…just look what’s in your hand”. Truer words were
never spoken.

The band melted into a New Orleans Mardi Gras staple entitled CARNIVAL,
and after an incursion into a few bars of SAMSON AND DELILAH, they opted
instead for the rollicking and apropos LOOSE LUCY. ‘Thank you’s’ were
certainly in order, to Phil and his family, the road crew, UBC, DNC,, the entire Mardi Gras production team, and of course, the
Deadhead Family for making this night so indescribably special and
eccentrically rare.

Keeping with the New Orleans motif, LIFE IS A CARNIVAL primed the
faithful for a rip-roaring CUMBERLAND BLUES backed by Railroad Earth, the
band harmonizing the eternal query, “I just don’t know, if I’m going back

The elliptical intro to UNCLE JOHN’S BAND sounded, and Grateful Dead
101 was in session, punctuated by an august and soulful DO RIGHT WOMAN
backed by the Jerry Girls, Gloria Jones and Jackie La Branch. “…She's not
just a plaything, she's flesh and blood, just like her man”.
The first set ended with a proverbial tip of the cap to Bill Graham. In
the old days it was always a “B”ertha “G”reatest opener for Bill, but on
this night, a subtle Bertha would suffice. Surely, though, Uncle Bill was
smiling down on the pure magic which ensued…

[…to be continued...]

Rolling Rider

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From 12/17/04 - "Wizard's Pulpit" 12 Year Anniversary of 12/17/92

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