• December 17, 2007
    https://www.dead.net/features/dead-world-roundup/ratdog-and-little-feat-rock-rex
    RatDog and Little Feat Rock for Rex!

    Bob with Little Feat's Paul Barrere at the Rex benefit.
    Photo: David W. Clark © 2007

    Is there anything better than rockin’ out for a good cause? The 1,500 or so who packed the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco on Saturday December 15 for a Rex Foundation benefit concert don’t think so. As you all know, the Rex Foundation, named after former Grateful Dead roadie Rex Jackson, has long been the Dead’s major philanthropic arm, donating literally millions of dollars through the years to hundreds of small and large non-profit groups of every stripe. The Warfield has been the site of big Rex fundraisers the past three years, and this year’s was definitely a major wang dang doodle!

    As usual, the crowd was mostly a mixture of Dead Heads and GD Family types. A scrumptious buffet dinner was served before the music started—the downstairs of the beautiful old theater was set up completely with nicely decorated tables for this event, including the famed “pit” in front of the stage, which is usually a crush of dancers or moshers depending on the event. I didn’t see any moshing that night, but there was definitely plenty of dancing, from the front tables all the way to the back of the balcony.

    Three bands were on the bill and all played fabulously and were very well-received. Opening the show was The Waybacks, a mostly acoustic quartet that plays an appealing blend of Americana styles, from country to folk to swing jazz (sometimes all in the same tune!), highlighted by the dazzling interplay of guitarist James Nash and fiddle player Warren Hood. They definitely kicked it big time at the Warfield and had already won over the crowd completely by the time Mr. Robert Weir popped onstage near the end of their set to play a truly inspired “St. Stephen” (with Nash and Weir on tandem lead vocals) and a chugging “Big River.” Wow—good stuff!

    Barry Sless and Mark Karan at the Warfield 12/15.
    Photo: Bob Minkin © 2007

    Little Feat was up next, and what a treat that was. Hard to believe, but the re-formed lineup (sans the late, great Lowell George) has now been back together for nearly 20 years—“new” singer Shaun Murphy has been with them for 12!—and they are a completely reliable fun machine that rocks hard, has tons of soul and very serious instrumental chops. They played a fantastic mix of old Feat classics and newer tunes, including “Fat Man in the Bathtub,” “Oh Atlanta,” “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now,” “Hate To Lose Your Lovin’,” Buddy Guy’s “Feels Like Rain” (which Ms. Murphy absolutely killed on), “Willin’” (with Warren Hood on perfect sad country fiddle), and an extended workout on “Dixie Chicken” with Bobby joining them for a couple of strategically placed verses of “Tennessee Jed” and some cool jamming. If you haven’t seen the Feat in a while, by all means check ’em out! They’re the real deal, all right.

    That was a tough act to follow, to be sure, but it turns out that RatDog was feeling inspired, too, charging out of the gate with a short “Dark Star”-ish jam that dropped deftly into “Help on the Way.” With RatDog temp guitarist Steve Kimock not available because his wife was about to give birth, the lead guitar slot was ably filled by the wonderful Barry Sless—veteran of the David Nelson Band and many shows with Phil & Friends through the years. What a monster: He definitely has one foot in the melodic-but-trippy Garcia School, but he also adds much of his own personality to his playing, and he’s a fabulously expressive pedal steel player. After the band churned through “Help on the Way” and “Slipknot,” at the moment when “Franklin’s Tower” generally arrives, instead the music veered into “Brown-Eyed Women” and a surprise special guest joined them: None other than RatDog guitarist Mark Karan, who has been courageously battling throat cancer since last summer. Mark has turned up for a song or two at a number of Bay Area events in recent months, but this marked his most extensive stage time since his last tour with RatDog. This is great news indeed, and I’m here to tell ya that he sounded fantastic—ripping long and passionate solos, practically dancing as he played, completely at the top of his game. He and Barry Sless seemed to have some sort of telepathic mind-meld going; they were really in sync.

    As you can see from the list below, the band played a nice mixture of tunes, including a couple that had not been played on the West Coast before, “You Win Again” and “Catfish John” (which was more bluegrassy than Garcia’s version, with great harmonies).

    For the grand finale, at close to 1 a.m., the Dog was joined by a plethora of players from Little Feat and the Waybacks, as well as a pair of local rapper associates of RD skinsman Jay Lane—Chris Burger and Zachariah Mose from Alphabet Soup—for an epic, if slightly bizarre, version of “Franklin’s Tower.” And they kept on dancin’…

    All in all it was quite a night, and the good that will come from it months (and years) from now—in the form of disbursement of funds to needy causes—will make the glow of this evening feel even more special.

    RatDog Rex Benefit

    12/15/07 Warfield Theatre, SF

    Jam> Help on the Way> Slipknot> Brown-Eyed Women*> Truckin’*> Even So* > October Queen*> The Deep End*> The Other One*, You Win Again@, Catfish John@, Money for Gasoline > Stuff > Come Together*> One More Saturday Night* / Franklin’s Tower+

    *with Mark Karan on guitar; @ acoustic; + with Karan, Paul Barrere, Sam Clayton, Fred Tackett, Bill Payne, James Nash, Warren Hood, Chris Burger and Zachariah Mose

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Bob with Little Feat's Paul Barrere at the Rex benefit.
Photo: David W. Clark © 2007

Is there anything better than rockin’ out for a good cause? The 1,500 or so who packed the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco on Saturday December 15 for a Rex Foundation benefit concert don’t think so. As you all know, the Rex Foundation, named after former Grateful Dead roadie Rex Jackson, has long been the Dead’s major philanthropic arm, donating literally millions of dollars through the years to hundreds of small and large non-profit groups of every stripe. The Warfield has been the site of big Rex fundraisers the past three years, and this year’s was definitely a major wang dang doodle!

As usual, the crowd was mostly a mixture of Dead Heads and GD Family types. A scrumptious buffet dinner was served before the music started—the downstairs of the beautiful old theater was set up completely with nicely decorated tables for this event, including the famed “pit” in front of the stage, which is usually a crush of dancers or moshers depending on the event. I didn’t see any moshing that night, but there was definitely plenty of dancing, from the front tables all the way to the back of the balcony.

Three bands were on the bill and all played fabulously and were very well-received. Opening the show was The Waybacks, a mostly acoustic quartet that plays an appealing blend of Americana styles, from country to folk to swing jazz (sometimes all in the same tune!), highlighted by the dazzling interplay of guitarist James Nash and fiddle player Warren Hood. They definitely kicked it big time at the Warfield and had already won over the crowd completely by the time Mr. Robert Weir popped onstage near the end of their set to play a truly inspired “St. Stephen” (with Nash and Weir on tandem lead vocals) and a chugging “Big River.” Wow—good stuff!

Barry Sless and Mark Karan at the Warfield 12/15.
Photo: Bob Minkin © 2007

Little Feat was up next, and what a treat that was. Hard to believe, but the re-formed lineup (sans the late, great Lowell George) has now been back together for nearly 20 years—“new” singer Shaun Murphy has been with them for 12!—and they are a completely reliable fun machine that rocks hard, has tons of soul and very serious instrumental chops. They played a fantastic mix of old Feat classics and newer tunes, including “Fat Man in the Bathtub,” “Oh Atlanta,” “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now,” “Hate To Lose Your Lovin’,” Buddy Guy’s “Feels Like Rain” (which Ms. Murphy absolutely killed on), “Willin’” (with Warren Hood on perfect sad country fiddle), and an extended workout on “Dixie Chicken” with Bobby joining them for a couple of strategically placed verses of “Tennessee Jed” and some cool jamming. If you haven’t seen the Feat in a while, by all means check ’em out! They’re the real deal, all right.

That was a tough act to follow, to be sure, but it turns out that RatDog was feeling inspired, too, charging out of the gate with a short “Dark Star”-ish jam that dropped deftly into “Help on the Way.” With RatDog temp guitarist Steve Kimock not available because his wife was about to give birth, the lead guitar slot was ably filled by the wonderful Barry Sless—veteran of the David Nelson Band and many shows with Phil & Friends through the years. What a monster: He definitely has one foot in the melodic-but-trippy Garcia School, but he also adds much of his own personality to his playing, and he’s a fabulously expressive pedal steel player. After the band churned through “Help on the Way” and “Slipknot,” at the moment when “Franklin’s Tower” generally arrives, instead the music veered into “Brown-Eyed Women” and a surprise special guest joined them: None other than RatDog guitarist Mark Karan, who has been courageously battling throat cancer since last summer. Mark has turned up for a song or two at a number of Bay Area events in recent months, but this marked his most extensive stage time since his last tour with RatDog. This is great news indeed, and I’m here to tell ya that he sounded fantastic—ripping long and passionate solos, practically dancing as he played, completely at the top of his game. He and Barry Sless seemed to have some sort of telepathic mind-meld going; they were really in sync.

As you can see from the list below, the band played a nice mixture of tunes, including a couple that had not been played on the West Coast before, “You Win Again” and “Catfish John” (which was more bluegrassy than Garcia’s version, with great harmonies).

For the grand finale, at close to 1 a.m., the Dog was joined by a plethora of players from Little Feat and the Waybacks, as well as a pair of local rapper associates of RD skinsman Jay Lane—Chris Burger and Zachariah Mose from Alphabet Soup—for an epic, if slightly bizarre, version of “Franklin’s Tower.” And they kept on dancin’…

All in all it was quite a night, and the good that will come from it months (and years) from now—in the form of disbursement of funds to needy causes—will make the glow of this evening feel even more special.

RatDog Rex Benefit

12/15/07 Warfield Theatre, SF

Jam> Help on the Way> Slipknot> Brown-Eyed Women*> Truckin’*> Even So* > October Queen*> The Deep End*> The Other One*, You Win Again@, Catfish John@, Money for Gasoline > Stuff > Come Together*> One More Saturday Night* / Franklin’s Tower+

*with Mark Karan on guitar; @ acoustic; + with Karan, Paul Barrere, Sam Clayton, Fred Tackett, Bill Payne, James Nash, Warren Hood, Chris Burger and Zachariah Mose

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Is there anything better than rockin’ out for a good cause?The 1,500 or so who packed the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco on Saturday December 15 for a Rex Foundation benefit concert don’t think so.
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Why not offer up recordings of this show up for donation causes? Hell, I'll buy 2!
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The Weirbacks "St Stephen" was really great. Bobby kinda got lost in "Big River," somehow, but that's okay. And I second what Blair had to say about Little Feat - what a treat! I had to leave before Ratdog, because my wife is recovering from surgery and hasn't got much energy. If I had known Mark was goinh to be there I would have insisted we stay for a few numbers. So glad to hear he was there, and in such good form. GD Hour blog Station list
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Timmy, that's a great idea about doing benefit CDs from the event, as both bands already tend to make CDs of every show, so perhaps they'd be into it. I'll make sure your suggestion gets to the Rex Foundation...
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can't say enough good about that St. Stephen. And having gone this long without seeing Little Feat live I was really blown away. I've been singing "Fat Man in the Bathtub" ever since.
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Thank you Blair for writing an elegant review of the evening. The Rex Foundation appreciates everyone's support which encourages the unlimited devotion to produce these wonderful evenings. It also allows the Rex Foundation to Further the Tradition of Grassroots Giving. Regarding selling CDs of the event, Rex would love to provide you this music, but we have to wait for the musicians who created it to make that decision. The Rex Foundation is looking forward to streaming the music through RexFoundation.org . You can listen to previous Rex events there now. In the meantime, you can go to the Rex web site and review some photos from the event. Look in The Music Never Stops for Photos and Write Ups links. There is also a brief story about the creation of the Rex Community Caravan Bus there.
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was the coolest. I'm really glad it's going on tour!
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Great review, Blair. Wish I could have been there. And I second that emotion about providing cds of shows like this. It would be a great way to share the music, as well as raise funds for a wonderful cause. Thanks!
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I totally agree with Timmy!!! They should release the recordings and give the proceeds to the cause. In fact, there have been some AMAZING Rex Bennies over the years! The Boys always seemed to turn it up a notch for Rex back in the day. Maybe a series of handsome Rex Box Sets are in order here! :^} It can ring - turn night to day It can ring like fire when you lose your way
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John Hiatt's "Feels Like Rain," covered by the legendary Buddy Guy, Aaron Neville and many others - credit where credit is due please.
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Point is well taken, Bruno. I love John Hiatt! But Buddy Guy definitely popularized it; even won a Grammy for it...
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The last time i saw Little Feat was 76 i think and Hammersmith Odeon, probably the best show i have ever seen that includes Europe 72 at least i enjoyed it more at the time Bob - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Spanish Jam
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what's not to like about a guy who came up with not only "Now I'm yellin' at the kids in the backCuz they're banging like Charlie Watts" but the deathless "Perfectly Good Guitar"...
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. Little Feat was up next, and what a treat that was. Hard to believe, but the reformed original lineup (sans the late, great Lowell George) Not the original lineup, no Roy Estrada, and Sam and Kenny wern't in the original - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Spanish Jam
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Thank god...and now I can return to RatDog concerts. SK just didn't cut it for me.
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"Classic" Feat lineup would've been more accurate, true...
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It was a wonderful night, musically and for me personally. I needed a good old fashioned night of fun and music (and nothing but fun and music) and this event delivered! Next time, I'm going to figure out a way to afford the good seats
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After almost a week I still get that goofy grin when I think about this show. Not only was the music fabulous, but the spirit in the building reminded me of the good old Grateful Dead show vibe. It was a feeling of family and people getting together for good times and a good cause. I am really looking forward to more Rex foundation events in 2008 as we celebrate our 25th anniversary. Thanks to everyone involved.
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Wasn't Bob supposed to shave for this show???
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I really enjoyed the show and seeing so many familiar faces from over the years. The tickets were my special birthday celebration gift from my wife--it was just a blast. I would like to do it every year. Thanks for a great time for a great cause!
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We had the wonderful chance to see Little Feat play this summer in our hometown of Frisco Colorado. On Main Street for FREE! What a great time. In the cool Colorado rain these guys just got better and better. Too bad it ended so quickly. Of course they still have the chops! I caught Billy and Paul with Phil and Friends a few yaers ago. Still one of my favorite P&F shows. I hope they come around these parts again. And it doesn't have to be free. JC
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I have to agree, a set from the show would be a GREAT way to raise a little dough for the foundation. I'll buy them as soon as I can after just buying the Winterland box set!!
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    cara1223
    8 years 10 months ago
    350-050
    350-050
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    bgr8fll
    12 years 2 months ago
    Please put out a CD of this show for the east coast
    some tunes
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    ken herrick
    12 years 11 months ago
    CDs
    I have to agree, a set from the show would be a GREAT way to raise a little dough for the foundation. I'll buy them as soon as I can after just buying the Winterland box set!!