By: Bill Clifford
It's been thirteen years since the passing of the iconic Grateful Dead guitarist and vocalist, Jerry Garcia. Since that time, the remaining principal Grateful Dead members have all found the means to make sure the spirit and legacy of the Grateful Dead remains alive and well.
Perhaps that mentality can be best exemplified by the music of The Rhythm Devils, a group put together informally in the mid '70s by the Dead's percussionists, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann. Rounding out the jam heavy supergroup lineup on this set are Phish bassist Mike Gordon, Zero guitarist Steve Kimock, talking drum player Sikiru Adepoju and Deep Banana Blackout vocalist Jen "Pipes" Durkin.
Touring intermittently through much of '07, the collective developed a quiver of Grateful Dead staples, but they also debuted original Rhythm Devils songs with lyrics written by lyricist Robert Hunter, the bulk of which the recently released Concert Experience DVD centers around. The concert footage is intertwined with graphic aids such as decades old cartoon footage, antique film of construction and destruction, celestial images, traffic speeding by and sunsets over a desert, to name just a few. As an addendum, a second disc is included offering behind the scenes footage, rehearsals and interviews.
Seven of the songs were filmed from one performance at the Chicago Theatre, while eight were taken from the Starland Ballroom in New Jersey. As for the actual songs and the concert footage, it centers on they rhythm of the three drummers and the rolling bass of Gordon.
Neither Kimock nor Durkin, both exceptional musicians, hog the spotlight or the camera, but each has their moments throughout the performances. Further, Kimock never tries to imitate Garcia's irreplaceable guitar sound. On the airy opener, "Comes The Dawn," however, his guitar does add harmony to the dual vocals of Durkin and Gordon. And on Youssou N'Dour's "7 Seconds," Durkin's vocals are sensual and elegant, deep and melodic.
Live music is meant to be experienced in the theaters with blissful, energetic fans all around. As such, a DVD, viewed in the comfort of one's own recliner, will never replace the communal experience of being at a performance. Nonetheless, the release of a concert DVD rather than an audio only CD is an excellent merchandising choice, finely packaged in a bound hardcover book with images and lyrics splashed over its pages. For any music lover or Dead Head, The Rhythm Devils' Concert Experience DVD is a welcome piece of memorabilia.
JamBase | In The Crowd
Go See Live Music!