Photo by Larson Sutton
Last night, at The Strand Ballroom & Theatre in Providence, R.I., Dead & Company bassist Oteil Burbridge honored his late brother, Kofi Burbridge, on what would have been the 62nd birthday of the musician best known for his work with Tedeschi Trucks Band. Early in the second set, just prior to a rendition of The Allman Brothers Band’s “Come and Go Blues,” Burbridge offered a brief but heartfelt acknowledgment of the special date. It was a particularly subdued moment amidst three hours of joyous playing from Oteil & Friends, a noteworthy ensemble that includes Melvin Seals, Steve Kimock, Duane Betts, Jason Crosby, Johnny Kimock, and Lamar Williams Jr.
The three-hour, two-set performance in the classic downtown venue began with “Play It Back,” a Dr. Lonnie Smith cover, then ventured into Burbridge’s own catalog for “Too Many Times,” and on to the first of a few nods to Jerry Garcia, as well as the Grateful Dead, with a take on Garcia’s “Rubin and Cherise.” First-half highlights were a jumping “New River Train,” a gorgeous reading from Williams Jr. on Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” and a rambling run of Betts’ “Waiting on a Song.” The first frame culminated with Kimock and Betts searing on another Allman Brothers Band nugget, “Every Hungry Woman.”
The second set began with “Standing on the Moon” and a beautiful vocal from Burbridge on the Grateful Dead ballad that closes Burbridge’s newly released album, Lovely View of Heaven. Peak moments of the back half were a sprinting finish to “Mighty High,” Seals’ B-3 organ mastery on “Tore Up Over You,” and Crosby’s mash-up- a ‘Lithium of the Devil,’- weaving the lyrics of the Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil” into the melody of Nirvana’s “Lithium.” An extended and rollicking take of Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland’s “Turn On Your Lovelight” closed out the evening.
Oteil & Friends Fall Tour continues this evening with a stop at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, N.Y. Find more information about upcoming shows here.