On the 50th anniversary of the Monterey Pop Festival (yeah, I was there), jam-bands rule. The Grateful Dead and the Steve Miller Band both played Monterey: the Grateful Dead echo dubbed Dead & Co. plays SPAC on Tuesday; Miller plays Mountain Jam Sunday.
When guitarist-singer/songwriter John Mayer called the Grateful Dead “the greatest music of celebration” in Billboard, longtime Dead drummer Mickey Hart Facebooked back, “You’re one of us now,” confirming Mayer’s place in Dead & Co., which returns Tuesday to Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC, Rts. 9 & 50, Saratoga Springs). As Mayer made his own music (seven albums since 2001, “The Search for Everything” hit earlier this year) and Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio co-starred in what seemed likely to be the last shows ever by Grateful Dead members together as Fare Thee Well in the summer of 2011, Mayer was already finding his way into the fold by August and played his first Dead & Co. show at Madison Square Garden on Halloween. Summer tours followed in 2015 and last year; the SPAC show Tuesday is one of 20 this summer.
Mayer, 41, isn’t the only new kid playing with longtime Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, guitar and vocals; and drummers Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart; all in their 70s. Bassist Oteil Burbridge, 54, has played with the Allman Brothers Band, the Derek Trucks Band, the Aquarium Rescue Unit and other jam crews. Keyboardist Jeff Chimenti, 50, played in Weir’s RatDog and Grateful Dead reunions the Dead and Furthur. 7 p.m. $149, $40. 800-745-3000 www.livenation.com.
Co-starring Boz Scagggs, the Steve Miller Band was the only San Francisco band that already had a record deal by the time they played Monterey, and one of the best, along with long-vanished Moby Grape. While the Dead jammed jazz-style on rock, blues, folk and country songs, Miller has proved just as durable playing pop songs, earning him a featured Sunday slot at Mountain Jam; his band features keyboardist Joe Wooten of the supernatural Wooten brothers.
Billed as Three Days of Live Music on the Mountain, the jam-themed Mountain Jam (Hunter Mountain Ski Bowl, 64 Klein Ave., Hunter) presents 43 bands including legacy acts Miller, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, the String Cheese Incident and Peter Frampton; plus up and coming artists Ratboy Jr., the Big Takeover, Simi Stone, the Paul Green Rock Academy, Amy Helm and other Catskills-based artists. Just three weeks after Gregg Allman died, parts of this may (rightly) feel like a memorial. $119 Friday or Sunday, $139 Saturday plus camping and VIP packages. www.mountainjam.com.
I didn’t know what was happening, but I knew it was something loud and exciting when feedback blasts from the Paupers reached me across Monterey Bay some miles away from my barracks at the Presidio, announcing the Monterey International Pop Festival had launched the big-rock-show era that Friday night 50 years ago tomorrow.
What an eye- and ear-opener! The $3 to $6.50 ticket price seemed too steep on my U.S. Navy salary, so I joined fence-jumpers climbing trees and leaping into the Monterey County Fairgrounds. Tickets were too steep for egalitarian heroes the Grateful Dead, too. On Saturday afternoon, they set up a free show in a dusty stretch of nearby Fort Ord, where kids trained for Vietnam combat. The Army supplied the Dead with generators for power, water trucks and porta-johns. Both Jerry Garcia and Jimi Hendrix did their Army basic training (boot camp) at Fort Ord: Garcia got an early exit after multiple AWOL episodes while Hendrix qualified as a paratrooper. Other Ford Ord vets: Joe DiMaggio, Clint Eastwood, Jamie Farr, David Janssen, Martin Milner, John Saxon, Leonard Nimoy and thousands of others. Both the Grateful Dead and the Jimi Hendrix Experience played the last night of Monterey Pop, 50 years ago Sunday.
'Lies' and 'Liar'
Last Sunday, Harry Shearer began “Le Show,” his radio political broadside, with “Lies,” the 1965 Beatles-like hit by Albany’s own Knickerbockers — yeah, I saw them in 1964 at the University Twist Palace. They’re the band that put Bob Irwin’s tremendous Sundazed Records label on the map and on the charts when Irwin assembled the first ever Knickerbockers compilation CD. Their best-known lineup was Beau Charles, guitar; Buddy Randell, saxophone, vocals; John Charles, bass; and Jimmy Walker, drums, vocals.
Later in “Le Show,” Shearer played “Liar” by Three Dog Night. What public figure did these tunes attack?
Three Dog Night singer Chuck Negron (see Bill Buell’s story) plays the Palace Theatre (19 Clinton Ave. at N. Pearl St., Albany) on Saturday in the “Happy Together Tour” with the Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie, the Cowsills (minus Barry Cowsill, drowned in Katrina; and Billy Cowsill who died soon after from surgical complications), the Association, the Box Tops (minus founder/human foghorn Alex Chilton) and Ron Dante. Staffed with some original members in each band, this tour is top-heavy with hits: Three Dog Night recorded 21 Billboard Top 40 hits from ’69 to ’75, three hit No. 1.
Peter & Albert at Van Dyck
The Zelig of British pop, Peter Asher was a child actor, Mensa member, hitmaker with 20 albums from ’62 to ’68 as Peter & Gordon (partner Gordon Waller died in 2009), Apple Records exec, James Taylor’s manager and producer, also producer of hit albums by Linda Ronstadt, J.D. Souther and other Southern Californian singer-songwriters. His Peter & Gordon hits include “A World Without Love” that Paul McCartney reportedly wrote in eight minutes.
On Saturday at the Van Dyck (237 Union St., Schenectady), Asher teams up with fellow British mega-talent/everywhere man, country-fried electric guitar finger-picker Albert Lee.
Like Asher, Lee has credentials for miles. He played the Palace in 1977 with Emmylou Harris’ Hot Band, inspiring every country musician hereabouts for decades; he led the Everly Brothers’ band at the Coliseum Theater in 1987 and co-starred at Alive at Five with Bill Wyman and the Rhythm Kings in 2001; in that all-star show, Lee sang “I’m Ready” as the encore. With a dozen immaculately tuneful solo albums and session credits with everybody in sight, Lee also plays with the late Buddy Holly’s Crickets. These super-talented longtime friends will hit the Van Dyck stage Saturday ready to play almost anything. 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. $28 advance, $32 door. 348-7999 www.vandycklounge.com.
Four Voices at Tanglewood
In a modestly titled folk-rock revue (Four Voices), Joan Baez, Mary Chapin Carpenter and the Indigo Girls (Emily Saliers and Amy Ray) play Tanglewood (97 West St., Lenox, Mass.) on Saturday. They’ve performed together periodically for decades; expect cool harmonies and familiar tunes. 7 p.m. $99-$25. 617-638-266-1492 www.bso.org.
Roots at The Egg
Tonight, Americana singer-songwriter Stephen Kellogg brings his band the South, West, North, East to The Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany). Native Run (Rachel Beauregard and Bryan Dawley) open. 7:30 p.m. $28. 473-1845 www.theegg.org.
On Friday, veteran keyboardist-singer/songwriter Bobby Whitlock takes over at The Egg, leading his trio featuring saxophonist CoCo Carmel in songs from “Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs” — yes, he was in Derek & the Dominoes! — and his solo career. 8 p.m. $29.50.
On Wednesday, mambo kings Orkestra Mendoza play Made in the Shade of the Egg. Noon. Free.
Utah & Others' Songs at Caffe Lena
Answering the musical question “What Would Utah Sing?’ on Sunday at Caffe Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs) is an all-star revue of musical rabble- (or rebel-) rousers: Utah Phillips’s sons Duncan and Brendan with Magpie, Annie & Jonnie Rosen, Dan Schatz, Rik Palieri and the New Economistas. 7 p.m. $22 advance, $25 door, $12.50 students and children. 583-0022 www.caffelena.org.
Earlier, Great Big Sea singer Sean McCann plays solo tonight at the Caffe — 7 p.m. $16 advance, $18 door, $9 students and children — Ariana Gillis is canceled on Friday — and Nashville’s Griffin House plays on Saturday — 8 p.m. $22 advance, $24 door, $12 students and children.
Reach Gazette columnist Michael Hochanadel at hochanadel @dailygazette.net.