One of my favorite venues to catch Max Creek were the outdoor shows they played most holiday weekends at Bucksteep Manor in Washington Massachusetts. Lately, I've only been able to catch them at their April shows in Lenox Massachusetts during Creek-End their annual anniversary celebration. Most of the band members have other gigs or day jobs and they don't play nearly as many shows as they did back in the day. One show a month is about average now interspersed between the bandmates other commitments.
When the Dead announced their concert dates in April, I knew there was probably going to be a conflict and I would have to choose which one of my favorite bands I was going to see. Then I looked at the calendar on Max Creek's website and I noticed two things no Creek-End this year (April) and no Camp Creek (July). I wasn't sure if this was deliberate or because Scott would be on the road with KBM. Then up popped a notification on my JamBase radar that the guys would be playing a really local show (for me) in March in Troy. No conflicts with other concerts, or poker!! It doesn't get much better then having one of your favorite bands play about 10 miles from your house!!
BFF Kim and I were joined, by her son and my "nephew", Zackary. He was home from Boston for the weekend. His girlfriend, Sierra stayed home finishing up papers and projects for her last semester at Northeastern University. Zack had not been to a Max Creek show since he was three. He's now 23. I coerced him by stating to Kim, " Doesn't he want to hang out with his cougar, Aunt Lori?" According to Zackary, Creek is "old school". Which I loosely deciphered to mean: "they are a bunch of old farts who wants to see them, certainly not me."
Long gone are my days of head to toe tye-dye or as my dad used to call it my costume. In dad's immortal words. "I can't believe you spent that much time getting dressed up to look that bad". After trying on numerous tops. I decided the only thing that would cover my winter coat was a MuuMuu, ala PHiSH's Jon Fishman. Instead, I opted to go rocker chic in jeans and a Black T-shirt emblazoned with a peace sign.
Opening act was local band Raisinhead. I was interested to see Raisinhead as it included members of two former dead cover bands I used to go see in the 80's: Slipknot and Box of Rain. They played a short opening set that included the Grateful Dead's New Speedway Boogie. As Zack stated, "a little bit to garage bandy". I'm not a music critic, so the best way for me to say it is they never quite let loose and the music felt a little constrained.
Earlier we had chatted up a couple of Revolution Hall regulars, Mike and Tom. They were VIPs. Zack got a couple of free drinks. I got a bunch of glow sticks from Tom. Tom told Zack that he goes to shows every night and then right to his day job as a shrink for little girls. And he does this with little or no sleep by taking the same things he gives the little girls as he popped a pharmie right in front of Zack. Zack thinks its Molly, I said maybe Adderall. By the end of the night i think Zack was right and I was wrong. Tom was dancing up front right at the stage in front of bassist John Rider. During one tune he turned around and grabbed some chick and commenced to make out with her. No idea, if he knew her.
Saturday night the drums were manned by the Gregs's: Vasso and Degugs (DeGuglielmo). Both are the former drummers, although they both still sit in from time to time. Current drummer, Scott Allshouse was away on his day job gig. When keyboardist Mark Mercier came out on stage, Zack asked me who is the white-haired guy and is he playing? Like an Indian Squaw I have to pass down the history of the band verbally to the young one. Fear not, young brave he will tickle those keyboards and you will be impressed that the old dude can rock. Kim looks at me and states: Scotty is so handsome. "I want to run my hands thru his long hair". I look at her, roll my eyes at Zack stating, I hope she doesn't try to lick his arm like she did to Cappy Franti" In reply to Kim "I'm done with the long hair hippie look" (I had a major crush on Scott and Bob Weir in my twenties) "I think Vasso is hot", I reply, "I like guys with short hair". Zack: "the young dude drummer in the Steeler shirt is good who is he. I reply "Vasso". Zack: "I don't see the need for two drummers, they are hitting the snare at the same time'. Me: 'that's good then, they are in sync". (Zack is a drummer himself). Zack: "Scott is really smooth, like Trey". Me smiles and nods all knowing.
There were a bunch of twenty something girls all with black t-shirts on. On the back which I saw first they said Max Creek I SEE YOU. Great I thought friggin groupies. the front said Rana's bachelorette. Cool, a bachelorette party was present. Actually there were a couple of guys there too. One dude with the girls looked like either Russell Brand with neater hair, or a docile better looking Charlie Manson. There was another couple: a barbi-esque short blond and an equally short good looking dude entwined on the dance floor. During the second tune Hard Love. The dude may have actually got hard, blondie unzipped Ken's fly and reached right on in!!! Good golly miss molly!! Not to many Wookies were pleasant probably still recovering from Hampton the prior weekend. Then again Troy is not a Wookie friendly town.
We were treated to the following:
She's Here--> Hard Love, Blood Red Roses--> SPACE--> Cocaine Lady--> Mystery Train, Devil's Heart--> I See You
Orange Sunshine--> Wild Side--> Said And Done, Althea, Big River, If You Ask Me
Ice Cream Man, Werewolves Of London
Set I was the mellower of the two. Opening with She's Here, they launched into Mark Mercier's blues inspired Hard Love. At the end of the Jam on Hard love the jam seemed to be getting away and a little lost, Scott made a face and he and John and Mark brought it back together. Kim thought Degugs was off a couple times on his drumming. Blood Red Roses featured John Rider on vocals (Zack liked this tune) Things eventually got rocking on Mystery Train (Mark on vocals) They ended the first set with I SEE YOU the song printed on the back of the bachelorette's t-shirts.
Set II opened with one of my favorite Max Creek tunes: Orange Sunshine. Wild Side had a definite island vibe to it. Said & Done followed, and it was about this time Zack and Kim hit the road for their hour drive home. I stayed and was treated to Grateful Dead classic Althea. After Scott said "this next song is a real shit kicker" they launched into the Johnny Cash tune Big River. The second set closed with the up tempo If you Ask me.
The encore featured the debut of Ice Cream Man (Scott Murawski on vocals), an old blues tune written by John Brim that David Lee Roth & Van Halen actually covers. My suggestion to Scott is to update the flavors. Instead of chocolate, vanilla, coffee and fudge swirl. How about, Chocolate, Phish Food, Wavy gravy and One Sweet Whirled? (Ben & Jerry's flavors). Mark then banged out the opening notes of Warren Zevon classic, Werewolves of London. I looked at a fellow Creeker from Vermont and said no Kid Rock Sampling here.. the real McCoy. The guys got silly at the end not only baying at the moon like wolves as usual but a few sheep baas were thrown in for good measure.
All in all a great mix of tunes in a great setting for a show. The only song I wanted to hear but knew it probably wouldn't happen, is Greg Vasso's rocking cover of Sympathy for the Devil. I had never been to Revolution Hall which is in a row of old warehouses/factories and is now largely brew pubs and restaurants. I found the sound better then the Palace in Albany and its a more intimate setting.
For Max Creek on MySpace click here. For the official Max Creek website click here.