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Albums of 2015

Every year someone writes that the year passed and nothing grabbed them and it’s therefore a shit year for new music and let’s get on with next year. Immediately afterwards, someone else assembles a lengthy click-bait piece listing the fifty albums that some person with too much time on their hands could not be without. This plays out in an unrelenting back and forth beginning in November and ending sometime mid-February. The ongoing hash and rehash of the album of the year list nonsense has moved me to swear off such lists. Yet, here we are.

I know I said I wouldn’t do this again but I can’t let this year escape without some sort of survey of my favorites. In my utterly vain opinion, the things that I love are so worthy of your love that I feel obligated to shout about them into the Interweb nothingness in hopes that just one of you will hear my message and find, herein, at least one new thing or perhaps an old thing worthy of reappraisal. I will eschew the bulleted list format in favor of dense blocks of text because that will spare those of you who probably haven’t even read this far the burden of my opinion. I will also not rank anything. The albums mentioned below are all my favorites from this year though they may not, in fact, be all of my favorites. Continue reading

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Fare Thee Well – Chicago 2015

It’s been a week since I got home from Chicago and I’m still processing the experience of attending the Fare Thee Well shows. Herein, I shall relate the story of my weekend and, hopefully suss out a few things that I learned along the way.

We set off early on Thursday morning from Washington D.C. I and two of my oldest friends, Andy and Modi, with whom I’ve seen countless shows over the past twenty-plus years of friendship. This would be a big one. We were going to Soldier Field in Chicago for the final shows to feature the remaining “core four” members of the Grateful Dead. Two days earlier, Modi and I had marked the 20th anniversary of our last Grateful Dead shows. Now we were flying down the highway towards a great unknown. Having heard the Santa Clara Fare Thee Well shows, our expectations were tempered, at best. In fact, you could say that we were a bit dubious about what Chicago would bring. But, we were also excited. We’d been waiting months for this day to come, and finally, we were Chicago-bound. Continue reading

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20 Years Later: RFK ’95

I was going to write a pair of posts, much in the vein of my recent Phish anniversary posts, describing my adventures at the final Grateful Dead shows at Washington, D.C.’s RFK Stadium. But I can’t think on those shows without peeling back a scab that, somehow, isn’t quite healed. These two shows were not my last Grateful Dead shows. That one is chronicled here: All The Years Combine. I think that it’s been difficult to write about these shows because of what the annual tradition of the Grateful Dead at RFK Stadium meant and, how the void has never been filled.

I attended my first concert at RFK Stadium. Not just my first Grateful Dead show; my first concert. I became instantly hooked on Grateful Dead. The magic that they and the audience injected into the mundane urban stadium was equally intoxicating. The stadium itself resonated with energy. Even though, objectively, the first show I attended was the best overall performance I’d ever see from the Dead, I returned to RFK each year. In between, I went to as many other shows, in as many other cities, as seemed reasonable. Btu I always went back. My batteries recharged in that stadium. Continue reading

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20 Years Later: Phish 1995-06-19 Deer Creek

When plotting my Summer ’95 shows, I decided that I wanted to go to Deer Creek for the Grateful Dead’s annual run at the shed. It had garnered a reputation as a great place to see a show with notable performances stacking up in recent years. GDTS, however, saw fit to deny that portion of my order. Not to be deterred, I ordered tickets to see Phish there instead. I acquired a pair of tickets and my friend, Scotty, got one for himself. As plans sorted themselves out, Scotty volunteered to drive us in his mother’s car. Happy not to risk my beat-up Sentra on such a haul, I gladly accepted.

Scotty is a great guy whom I had met at a Capital Center Dead show the previous Autumn. He sat right in front of us and, inevitably, we were drawn into conversation. (I totally called the “Hell In A Bucket” opener. Scotty was appalled to hear the suggestion but it was, in fact, a mortal lock and the correct call.) We learned that he and I lived no more than three miles apart and became fast friends. We were soon were trading tapes and hanging out regularly.

The day after the Nissan Pavilion show was a Sunday and an off-day for Phish tour. We took advantage of this to make the trip out to Indiana more leisurely as our return trip would be a hurried, directly-from-the-show drive. Scotty had to work on Tuesday (and so did I) so we enjoyed our drive that Sunday and made camp late that afternoon in a western Ohio state park. Continue reading