Words by Andy Tennille, Tanner Wyer & Kayceman
Images by Michael Jurick, Dave Vann & Andy Tennille

Vegoose Music Festival :: 10.27.06 - 10.31.06
Las Vegas, NV

Vegas. The Entertainment Capital of the World. America's Playground. Lost Wages.

Whatever you call it, Las Vegas offers a different adventure for every new sinner arriving in Sin City.

Some come to strike it rich or with hopes of a new beginning; others are trying to escape their sordid pasts or ride off into the sunset.

Vegoose by Vann
The same can be said for Vegoose, the Halloween music festival thrown by Superfly and AC Entertainment for the past two years at UNLV's Sam Boyd Stadium. Some bands – The Raconteurs, Gomez, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Built to Spill and The Killers – arrived at Vegoose riding the wave of successful new albums, while others, like Widespread Panic, The Mars Volta, Trey Anastasio and The Black Crowes, were in search of a rebirth following personnel changes. Fiona Apple, Money Mark and Praxis all expanded the musical horizons of Vegoose attendees, while The Roots, Jurassic 5, The Coup and Dr. Octagon brought the hip-hop vibe. Jenny Lewis, Band of Horses, Jim James and Damien "Junior Gong" Marley came to Vegas to make a name for themselves, while Saturday headliners Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Phil Lesh & Friends and Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann's Rhythm Devils are entering the twilight of their careers.

Old or young, rich or poor, famous or infamous, everyone comes to Las Vegas chasing a different dream. Some find theirs amid the iridescent glow of The Strip; others are led astray like a mirage in the Nevada desert.
-Andy Tennille (AT)

Friday :: 10.27.06

Robert Randolph :: The Orleans Arena

Randolph & Anastasio :: 10.27 :: The Orleans by Vann
"It's very hard to survive in Sin City for somebody from any church, but you can just appreciate what Vegas has to offer, take it step by step and have a good time. Let it be innocent, but still have fun. Just flow with it."

Robert Randolph swirls the remnants of his Patron silver tequila in a red plastic Solo cup as a broad grin spreads across his sweaty face. The prince of the pedal steel and his Family Band have just finished opening for Trey Anastasio at The Orleans Arena on the Friday night before the official festival kickoff, and the party is in full swing backstage. Randolph is in town promoting his new album, Colorblind, which comprised most of the band's hour-long set. A mix of soul, rock, hip-hop and funk, Colorblind is a continuation of 2003's Grammy-nominated Unclassified, which saw Randolph and the Family Band begin to spread their wings beyond their gospel background. But most of all, Randolph says the new album is about one thing – love.

"It's all about love, man. When you love yourself first, you can appreciate and love other people. That's what I tried to do with this record – to get people to celebrate life and love," the New Jersey native pontificates. "It's not so much a sexual love or a sensual love. It's more like an 'I care for you' kind of thing. I want to help lift you up when you're down. This record is a celebration of life. I hope people realize that life can be snatched away from you at any moment."

Trey Anastasio :: The Orleans Arena

Anastasion & Hall :: 10.27 :: The Orleans by Vann
Interestingly enough, the night's headliner has apparently experienced a similar cathartic experience of late. When Trey Anastasio walked offstage and away from Phish at Coventry in August 2004, fans wondered openly why the guitarist would walk away from the fame and success he'd achieved from a 21-year relationship with Mike Gordon, Jon Fishman and Page McConnell. After a few months spent recording what eventually became Bar 17, the guitarist emerged with the underwhelming 70 Volt Parade touring band and the pop-leaning Shine, a commercially successful album not fully embraced by Phish's skeptical fan base. As quickly as the Parade started, it ended. Bassist Peter Chwazik and drummer Skeeto Valdez were replaced by the New Orleans funk duo of Tony Hall and Raymond Weber. With Les Hall's departure earlier this year and the addition of fellow Vermonters Jennifer Hartswick and Christina Durfee on backing vocals, the current incarnation of the Trey Anastasio Band was born.

Trey Anastasio :: 10.27 :: The Orleans by Tennille
Not only did Anastasio arrive in Vegas with a new band, including Jeff "Apt. Q258" Sipe on drums in place of an ailing Weber, but Big Red also had a new lease on life. According to recent interviews, amid all the chaos following Phish's break-up, Anastasio has been battling demons in the form of drug addiction. Whatever catharsis the guitarist has undergone, the experience is evident in his music. With old friend Ray Paczkowski still anchoring the keyboards and Hall and Sipe driving a tight groove, Anastasio had room to play and explore without the constraint of another guitarist in the mix. The result was a more focused sound – "Simple Twist Up Dave" and a stellar "First Tube" got things started nicely before Randolph and Family Band organist Jason Crosby sat in for a red-hot reading of Hendrix's "Stone Free." "Push On Til the Day" may have been the pinnacle of the show, but the real highlight was seeing Anastasio back with a band that could keep up and challenge him musically. G.R.A.B. managed to accomplish it this summer, and TAB 2.0 proved they're up for the challenge in Vegas.

Continue reading for Saturday at Vegoose...

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