by Steve Bloomphoto by
It’s too bad that sometimes the best concerts are benefits. Too bad because it takes a disaster to bring sundry performers together on one stage to raise money and awareness. In this case, moe. took it upon themselves to organize the Feb. 10 benefit concert at New York’s Roseland Ballroom for Tsunami Relief. The money raised was earmarked for the Bama Works Village Recovery Fund (Dave Matthews pledged to match the funds raised). More than 3,000 jam-band fans paid $40 per ticket. That adds up to approximately $120,000. No bad for a three-plus hour concert.
The five guys from moe. opened the two-set show with “Rebubula.” After a lengthy jam, they were joined by keyboard genius John Medeski (from Medeski Martin & Wood) and bluegrass stalwart Sam Bush on violin for a rollicking tour of “Mexico.” Bush left and Medeski stuck around for another prolonged excursion (“Plane Crash”) and the night’s first cover (“Got My Mojo Working”). Bush returned to perform a solo version of Lowell George’s “Sailing Shoes” on mandolin (check out Robert Palmer’s original version on the 1974 album, Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley) and moe.’s “Same Old Wade.” The set came to close with a note-for-note cover of Cream’s version of Robert Johnson’s blues classic, “Crossroads” (check out the original version on Wheels of Fire). Oh yeah, for this, the band was joined by none other than that redheaded stranger, former Phish frontman Trey Anastasio.
After a 25-minute break, Anasastio came back out with two of his own bandmates, vocalist Jennifer Hartswicke and keyboard player Ray Paczowski, as well as moe. They launched into a searing “Night Speaks to a Woman” from Anastasio’s 2002 solo album. For the rest of the show, most of the guests stayed on stage, adding up to a total of 10 performers. After “Spine of the Dog” and “Buster,” Anastasio took center stage again as the band roared into the Phish cover staple, Stevie Wonder’s “Boogie on Reggae Woman.” An extended drum solo by Vinnie Amico and Jim Loughlin cleared the stage.
To the delight of Phish phans throughout the cavernous ballroom, Anastasio walked back on stage by himself with an acoustic guitar. He broke out a trio of Phish tunes, starting with “Chalkdust Tortune.” He then segued into the crowd pleaser, “Wilson,” and finished the segment with “Meat.”
The show’s final three songs were monumental jams, as moe. guitarists Chuck Garvey and Al Schnier and basisist Rob Derhak all traded furious solos with the assembled guests. It was a half hour before midnight when the entire band powered into Eric Clapton’s “After Midnight.” In one last bit of improvised inspiration, the performers and crowd let it all hang down, moe.down style.