Watch Phil Lesh & Friends Launch Birthday Run With Adventurous ‘Help On The Way’/’Slipknot!’ Pairing
Goose’s Rick Mitarotonda, John Medeski, Jennifer Hartswick, Natalie Cressman, James Casey, John Molo and Grahame Lesh served as Phil’s band.
By Scott Bernstein Mar 16, 2023 • 8:23 am PDT
Phil Lesh & Friends kicked off a four-show run celebrating bassist Phil Lesh‘s 83rd birthday last night at The Capitol Theatre. The band for Wednesday’s concert at the famed Port Chester, New York rock palace, which took place on the bassist’s birthday, saw Phil joined by guitarists Rick Mitarotonda of Goose and Grahame Lesh, keyboardist John Medeski, drummer John Molo and the Trey Anastasio Band horn section of James Casey, Natalie Cressman and Jennifer Hartswick.
The octet eased a spacey jam into “Help On The Way” to start the concert and run. Mitarotonda handled lead vocals on the opener and shined instrumentally on the “Slipknot!” that followed. Rick traded licks with Grahame Lesh throughout the 14-minute sequence as the horns echoed certain melodies the pair would conjure. John Medeski added organ to the exploratory interlude which dropped into “Cumberland Blues” instead of the expected “Franklin’s Tower.”
Check out pro-shot video from the beginning of last night’s show via Relix below:
The Phil-helmed “Cumberland Blues” was followed by Rick singing “Dire Wolf.” Mitarotonda also fronted the ensuing “Scarlet Begonias” with James Casey on lead vocals for “Fire On The Mountain.” Wednesday’s first set concluded with the “Franklin’s Tower” left unplayed earlier in the night.
Phil Lesh guided his band through “Not Fade Away” to get last night’s second set underway. Grahame then had a turn in the vocal spotlight for a 15-minute “Playing In The Band.” A seamless run bookended by “St. Stephen” and “Let It Grow” ended and formed the bulk of the closing stanza. “The Other One,” a take on CSN’s “Long Time Gone” and “The Wheel” came within.
Venue owner Peter Shapiro brought out The Cap’s squirrel mascot to present Phil with a cake and lead the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” before Phil Lesh & Friends punctuated the evening with an “I Know You Rider” encore. The run resumes on Friday night. Livestreams are available via FANS.live.
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Audience Recording (Taped by David Dyche)
Set One: Jam > Help On The Way > Slipknot! > Cumberland Blues, Dire Wolf, Scarlet Begonias > Fire On The Mountain, Franklin’s Tower
Set Two: Jam > Not Fade Away, Playing In The Band, St. Stephen > The Other One > Long Time Gone > The Wheel > Let It Grow
Encore: I Know You Rider