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Phil Lesh and Friends
Denver Philmore & Red Rocks Weekend
July 15-16, 2005


Introduction: Denver Fillmore, 7/15/05
"…They Said Every Man can be Replaced…"

It's been literally 40-times-40 days since the first ever Rolling Rider from the Denver Fillmore back in 2001, and one thing certainly hasn't changed: to ask a mere mortal to step into the colossal shoes of Jerome John Garcia is like asking a mosquito to bench press a Cadillac. I've heard the Grateful Dead keyboards called the hot-seat, but in your reporter's humble estimation, Phil's rotation of friends - from Ryan Adams to Warren Haynes, Trey Anastasio to Steve Kimock - are faced with a task comparable to the myth of Sisyphus, condemned eternally to roll a huge boulder up a hill only to have it roll down upon nearing the summit.

That being said, the prelude to Red Rocks on the corner of Colfax included the yin and yang, the valleys and peaks that are a part of the exploration we hold near as if it were our own. Whereas EYES OF THE WORLD and WHARF RAT were wrought with emotion, MUST'VE BEEN THE ROSES lilted. TRUCKIN' busted down the front door and roared in, but RIPPLE didn't bounce and spring along like two souls down a path through summer gold wheat. The point is, with Phil at the helm, the music being made was heartfelt, respectful, and perhaps most importantly, not just a snatch of nostalgia. It was a searchlight casting.

Part One: Red Rocks, 7/16/05, Set One
"…Try to see what's going down, maybe read between the lines…"

Under a white-hot sun, the faithful ambled into 250 million-year-old Mecca on the Rocks like the SPACEY JAM which began the day. COLD RAIN and SNOW was an orison we all wished was answered, but the sweltering heat only wrapped itself around us more tightly. A poignant FRIEND OF THE DEVIL paired with EASY PLATEAU, a chance for Ryan Adams to flaunt an original. BERTHA pop-started the languid crowd like an old VW, and though we forgot to hand over the old guitar and pass the whiskey round', Jimmy's intro to the fledgling bars of CANDYMAN seemed to melt down like warm taffy.

Phil decided to take the reins himself and gallop down the dry dusty road into SCARLET BEGONIAS, his bass like a lead guitar, and his resonant voice filling up the timeless, baking clay monoliths towering around us. An elliptical melody became FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN, and the flame from the stage spread to the floor, as our collective voices echoed between the cavernous slabs rising up out of the hillside.

Part Two: Red Rocks, 7/16/05, Set Two
"…We can discover the wonders of nature…"

Set two opened up with a JAM into DARK STAR, Barry Sless carving out lines as intricate and ornate as the geological wonder we were cupped within. In the same place where dinosaur tracks flank the sandstone and fossil fragments of forty foot serpents tell their tale, our music seemed almost as prehistoric. With a mixture of Grateful Dead 101 and the initiation of Ryan Adams, SUGAR MAGNOLIA was followed by MAGNOLIA MOUNTAIN, and UNCLE JOHN'S BAND was trailed by the unfamiliar reaches of LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL.

In the clean-up spot, LADY WITH A FAN was a haunting breeze which blew inside our bodies, and like an automaton, I raced breathlessly to the top of the rocks. A new world opened up. The endless citylights twinkling like a spacescape beyond the top of the theatre, and the massive obelisks teetering imposingly into the heavens, made me feel like a single atom in the universe. TERRAPIN STATION, our community in general, took its rightful place as the ninth wonder of the world.

Under the spiral light of Venus, verse two of DARK STAR shimmered into THE OTHER ONE, Phil's bass chugging along with Jeff Sipe's primal drums. Like the first dream in early morning, the Vista Cruiser docked gingerly into STELLA BLUE. Ryan did his best to conjure up that song which cries like the wind, through all the broken dreams and vanished years. In between the giggling banter about bootlegs and busted strings, Ryan's love for the band, and the old man, shone through.

Sensing that the night was fleeting, it was Phil's turn to steer the ship, and he set a course for a blistering CHINACAT SUNFLOWER that spilled over the timeless rocks and into eternity, comic book colors on a violin river crying Leonardo words from out a silk trombone. When I KNOW YOU RIDER sounded, I knew the headlights would be shining from northbound trains, microbuses, and big-rigs through the Colorado rain and on into the night. During the ORGAN DONOR RAP, Phil stressed that our community can make a difference, and for our recessional hymn, he opted for a rare redux of WHARF RAT.

Before your roaming reporter leaves you, I want to give a loving shout-out to the coolest birthday girl in the world, good ol' Jendee: "…Cat on a tin roof, dogs in a pile, nothing left to do but Smile, Smile, Smile…"

See You in the Fall,
August West (aka The
Rolling Rider)

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Warfield and Wavy Weekend - 5/13-15/05

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