Photo by Rachael Wright
On Tuesday night, trailblazing ’60s group The Ace of Cups made their New York City debut, playing cuts from their recently released, self-titled LP and welcoming Patti Smith guitarist Lenny Kaye for a song.
The Mercury Lounge gig kicked off with a video detailing the group’s storied history and continued when The Ace of Cups recited a spoken-word origin story, with acoustic accompaniment.
An hourlong panel followed, featuring all four members of The Ace of Cups – Mary Gannon (bass/ vocals), Mary Ellen Simpson (lead guitar/vocals), Diane Vitalich (drums/vocals) and Denise Kaufman (harmonica/vocals) – as well as Kaye, Rolling Stone senior editor David Fricke, Sirius XM host Gary Lambert, author and Grateful Dead affiliate Rhoney Stanley, Relix contributing editor Jesse Jarnow and Relix assistant editor Raffaela Kenny-Cincotta. The discussion touched on topics ranging from the San Francisco scene of the ’60s to the status of women in music today.
By 8:15 p.m., the band was fully plugged in, opening with “Mama’s Love” and jamming through other tunes like “Pepper in the Pot,” “Pretty Boy,” and “Grandma’s Hands.” Kaye jumped onstage to play “The Well,” filling a musical role that was originally portrayed on the band’s album by the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir. The Ace of Cups closed their New York City debut with an unfinished version of Peter Coyote’s “Backbone Hully Gully.”
Listen to the studio version of “The Well,” featuring Bob Weir, below: