On Thursday, JamBase rounded up statements from surviving Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann posted on social media about the passing of one of the band’s key lyricists, John Perry Barlow. Missing from article was anything from bassist Phil Lesh. Phil paid tribute to Barlow at Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael, California on Thursday night.
Phil Lesh performed at the Grate Room of his Terrapin Crossroads venue with The Terrapin Family Band and special guest Eric Krasno. The bassist took the stage accompanied by guitarist Grahame Lesh and drummer/vocalist Alex Koford to open the show. Both Alex and Phil came out sans instruments, so Grahame provided the only musical accompaniment for the trio’s gorgeous three-part vocal harmonies on “Attics Of My Life.”
Phil Lesh then talked about the loss of Barlow:
So as many of you know we lost John Barlow yesterday morning, a charter member of the Grateful Dead family from the get go. The lyricist for some of our best songs and a tireless advocate for intellectual and internet freedom and a futurist of the first magnitude. In a way, John was a kind of a renaissance man and I feel privileged to have known him and been able to work with him. We even tried to write some songs together…it never quite worked out. But as all true friendships are, you don’t always agree and that’s part of the glory of true friendship is that you can trust this person to tell you when you’re bullshit. And John, that was one of his finest things, he never hesitated to call anyone on their bullshit – even Garcia. It’s been said that everyone’s death diminishes us all and it’s never more true than in the case of someone we’ve known for so long and has meant so much to us. Go with god, John. We’d like to dedicate this performance tonight to John’s memory.
After Phil’s beautiful dedication, Grahame, Alex, Eric, multi-instrumentalist Jason Crosby and guitarist Ross James took their usual places on stage for “Estimated Prophet,” one of Barlow’s finest lyrics. Krasno sounded fantastic on “Estimated,” which was a taste of what was to come. Next up was a wild “Viola Lee Blues” that eventually gave way to “Cumberland Blues.” Other highlights from the first set were a Ross-sung cover of “Sweet Jane,” a sweet “Ramble On Rose” led by Koford and James belting out JPB’s “Throwing Stones” lyrics.
Krasno has been a wonderful addition to Phil Lesh’s orbit and has been perhaps the most frequent guest of Phil & The Terrapin Family Band over the past few years. Thursday’s second set began with a “Shakedown Street” that saw Eric weave in blues-tinged licks into the intro and show off his emotion-filled vocal style. Lesh, Kraz and The Terrapin Family Band connected “Shakedown” with “The Wheel” via an incredibly pretty piece of improvisation. Grahame then belted out one of the group’s true originals, “The River Song.”
A moment the crowd was waiting for came about 35 minutes into the second set, when Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band launched into “Cassidy.” Ross James handled vocals on the Barlow-penned classic, while both Crosby and Krasno shined during their respective solos. Another tune featuring lyrics written by John Perry Barlow followed in the form of “Let It Grow.” Grahame stepped up to sing “Let It Grow.” Though “Cassidy” did feature a jam, it was on “Let It Grow” where the ensemble truly let loose. Next up was a Phil spotlight song, “Unbroken Chain” and Eric Krasno once again providing vocals, this time on “China Cat Sunflower.” The group worked “China Cut” into “I Know You Rider” to close the set.
Phil Lesh emerged to give his “Donor Rap” at the start of the encore. Then, the rest of the band emerged and launched into “Box Of Rain.” Grahame and Ross dueled throughout the one-song encore before the group took a final bow. Eric Krasno wound up sitting-in on the entire concert with the exception of “Attics Of My Life,” which featured just Phil, Grahame and Alex.
Deadheadland provided streaming video of the entire concert:
Setlist (via Deadheadland)
Set One: Attics Of My Life (Just Phil, Grahame & Alex), Phil Talks About Barlow, Estimated Prohpet, Viola Lee Blues > Cumberland Blues, Sweet Jane, Ramble On Rose, Throwing Stones
Set Two: Shakedown Street > The Wheel, The River Song, Cassidy, Let It Grow, Unbroken Chain, China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
Encore: Box Of Rain