10 Magical Musical Moments Of 2015

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As we approach the end of 2015, we want to take a look back at just some of the many magical musical moments that took place over the course of the last 12 months. This year has been filled with surprises and celebrations, reunions and renewals. It hasn’t all been good as we lost great musicians and fans in 2015 and watched in horror as terrorists invaded a concert in Paris. But even in the bad we’ve found strength as the power of music has been on display.

Narrowing the list to just 10 was no easy task and many stand-out moments that were left off were nonetheless important in their own right. Live music is still the best, and with that in mind here are 10 of the hundreds of magical musical moments of 2015 in chronological order.

1. moe. Honors Eric Vandercar In Boulder – 2/5

The world lost a great person and the music world lost a beloved taper and fan when Eric Vandercar was among those killed on February 3 after a Metro-North commuter train crashed into an SUV in Westchester County, New York. moe. was one of EV’s favorite bands and the group appreciated Vandercar’s longtime support. On February 5, moe. had a few tributes in store for their show at the Fox Theater in Boulder as the venue’s marquee included a dedication to Vandercar that read “4EV.” In addition, moe. dedicated the evening’s rendition of “New York City” to Eric. Bassist Rob Derhak led into “New York City” by saying, “We lost a really really good friend of ours just recently. And he was very close to all of us in the band. We loved Eric Vandercar. This was one of his favorite songs. We dedicate – well we dedicate everything to him.”

2. John Mayer Crushes “Morning Dew” with Phil Lesh & Friends – 6/12

Before guitarist John Mayer teamed with Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann as part of Dead & Company for a highly successful Fall Tour, he was Phil Lesh’s surprise guest at a pair of Grateful Dead 1977 tributes at Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael, California. While Mayer had been rumored to join Weir, Hart and Kreutzmann on the road, it was with Lesh that the guitarist played his first shows filled with Grateful Dead music. John showed off the talent and emotion that would soon win the hearts of Deadheads throughout the run, but especially on a stirring rendition of “Morning Dew” on June 12.

3. Fare Thee Well Closes With Emotional “Attics Of My Life” – 7/5

Grateful Dead members Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann shared the stage for the last time (or at least that’s how the shows were billed) during five Fare Thee Well – Celebrating 50 Years Of Grateful Dead shows in Santa Clara and Chicago over the summer. While the Santa Clara performances were warmup gigs in every way, Chicago was the real deal for the Dead members, Bruce Hornsby, Trey Anastasio and Jeff Chimenti. A three-night stand at Chicago’s Soldier Field came to a close with a gorgeous version of “Attics Of My Life” that sent chills through the tens of thousands in attendance and countless more watching at various sites across the globe. “Attics Of My Life” was accompanied by a photo montage that gave Deadheads a chance to cheer for all the musicians on stage and those we lost over the years.

4. Warren Haynes Joins Wilco at Gathering of the Vibes – 8/1

The action-packed 20th anniversary installment of the Gathering of the Vibes was already a rousing success — and then hit its peak with this dream summit of the jam and indie worlds. Though “California Stars” is often Wilco’s go-to with guests, this high-energy version benefits right off the bat from Uncle Warren’s sweet-salty tone – – a skywriting guitar that graces, then colors, then slices into the heart of the tune, locking in with Wilco’s Nels Cline for the type of head-cutting that wouldn’t be out of place at a peak-form The Allman Brothers show. Everyone was feeling it — including Joe Russo, who snuck in to play percussion — and you can hear an unrestrained, almost hymnal joy in Jeff Tweedy’s voice when he comes back to the final “dream a dream of you” lines following the jam. – Chad Berndtson

5. Phish Plays Drive-In Set At Magnaball Festival – 8/22

On August 22, Phish continued a festival tradition by performing an unannounced, late-night set at Magnaball, the band’s tenth major festival which took place at Watkins Glen International race track. The all-improv set found the quartet performing behind a screen on one of the track’s grandstands that was converted into a “Drive-In Movie Theater” for the festival. Magnaball was filled with amazing music from the soundcheck through to the final set on Sunday night, but the Drive-In Set was filled with moments attendees won’t soon forget.

6. John Bell Leads Mad Dogs Tribute On “Delta Lady” – 9/11

This year’s Lockn’ Festival featured many one-time-only performances, but none better than a tribute to Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs & Englishmen led by the Tedeschi Trucks Band. The set was filled with memorable moments, but for our money the best was when unannounced guest John Bell of Widespread Panic came out to lead the ensemble through a rousing rendition of “Delta Lady.”

7. Joe Russo’s Almost Dead Delivers “Fire” At Brooklyn Bowl – 10/3

The Grateful Dead tribute act had already put on one of their best shows yet on October 3 at Brooklyn Bowl, when “Scarlet Begonias” segued into “Fire On The Mountain.” Keyboardist Marco Benevento took a solo for the ages that led to such a reaction from the crowd that Marco’s bandmates didn’t know how to respond and the version almost fell apart. Those in attendance will never forget that magical moment.

8. Dean Ween Group Plays 30-Minute Encore 30 Minutes After Show – 10/16

While 2016 will see Ween reunite, 2015 was the year of the Dean Ween Group. In 99.99 percent of most cases, you can consider a show over when the band leaves the stage, the house lights come up and the crew starts putting away microphones and other equipment. The October 16 Dean Ween Group show fell in 0.01 percent as the ensemble returned for a near 30-minute encore after most fans had left The 1UP – Colfax in Denver. The ridiculous “LMLYP” the ensemble performed even saw Deaner jump behind the drum kit at one point.

9. My Morning Jacket Calls For Moment Of Silence For Paris – 11/28

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NCke1kjBPI

New York City live music fans are notoriously loud and rambunctious, but for a few magical moments at the Beacon Theatre in NYC a capacity crowd was so silent you could hear a pin drop. My Morning Jacket was towards the end of a four-night stand at the iconic venue on November 28 when Jim James stepped to mic to discuss the tragic events that unfolded at Le Bataclan in Paris on November 13. James asked for a moment of silence in honor of the victims and the crowd did its part before My Morning Jacket launched into a debut cover of Eagles Of Death Metal’s “I Love You All The Time.”

10. Eagles Of Death Metal Occupy U2’s Stage In Paris – 12/7

Eagles Of Death Metal dealt with horror and tragedy when terrorists stormed their November 13th concert at Le Bataclan in Paris and killed nearly 100 attendees as well as the band’s merchandise manager. The group showed music is more powerful than evil when they made their triumphant return to the stage weeks later in Paris on December 7. EODM’s performance came at the end of U2’s concert at AccorHotel Arena in Paris, where they sat in on “People Have The Power” before Bono & Co. ceded the stage to the band to play a triumphant rendition of “I Love You All The Time.”