Today we look back to September 21, 2005…

Tom Waits, Bill Clinton, Trey Anastasio and The Meters Bring Mardi Gras to Manhattan

Trey Anastasio closed out Radio City’s From the Big Apple to the Big Easy benefit with a guest-laden jam session featuring many of the evening’s entertainers. After performing a short, upbeat set with 70 Volt Parade, Anastasio invited Dave Matthews onstage for a version of Bob Marley’s ‘Three Little Birds.’ As 70 Volt Parade completed the song’s composed section, a number of musicians began to filter in from the wings including The Wild Magnolia Mardi Gras Indians, Ivan Neville and Galactic’s Stanton Moore and Ben Ellman, as well as members of the Rebirth Brass Band. As Matthews faded offstage, the crowd’s focus shifted to the Wild Magnolia Mardi Gras Indians who led the supergroup through the Big Easy staple ‘Big Chief.’ Matthews returned a song later for a show closing version of Sly and the Family Stone’s ‘Thank You (Fallettin’ Me Be Mice Elf Again),’ with Eric Krasno joining in on guitar. As Radio City dropped its sky-scrapper size curtain the audience trickled onto the street, still singing Sly and the Family Stone’s anthem.

Decorated with Mardi Gras Beads and spiced up with authentic New Orleans cuisine Radio City Music Hall welcomed a sold out crowd to the more intimate of New York’s two From the Big Apple to the Big Easy Benefits. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band opened the nearly six hour show with a brief set before fellow New Orleans natives Galactic and the Wild Magnolia Mardi Gras Indians officially kicked-off the evening’s festivities. Performing its first New York show in over 25 years, The Meters stacked its short set with New Orleans anthems including ‘Cissy Strut’ and ‘Fire on the Bayou,’ a number which seemed to take on new meaning in the wake of hurricane Katrina. A bit later Meters, keyboardist Art Neville returned for a set with the Neville Brothers before scooting across town for a performance at Madison Square Garden. Continuing to develop the new, more blues oriented sound he has experimented with all year John Mayer performed a brief set with drummer Steve Jordan and bassist Pino Palladino. After peaking with an elongated ‘Gravity,’ Joss Stone helped the Trio close out its performance. As fans bid in Radio City’s silent lavish auction, The Rebirth Brass Band also entertained audience members floating throughout the lobby.

The night’s non-musical entertainment ranged from heroic to horrendous. Bill Clinton made a surprise appearance early on in the evening discussing the first trip he took to New Orleans as a child. ‘It was the first time I saw a building more than two-stories tall,’ the 42nd President said. The evening’s MC Harry Shearer, best known for voicing Simpsons’ characters like Mr. Burns and Principal Skinner, lost the crowd early with his political commentary. The New Orleans resident was booed continuously throughout the evening until he resorted to plugging _The Simpsons’ _ upcoming season.

Perhaps the evening’s most unique segment, Tom Waits performed a short song set backed by an all-star ensemble which included Marc Ribot, Charlie Musselwhite and Smokey Hormel. Though plagued with sound problems, Waits soldiered on performing numbers like ‘Way Down in the Hole,’ ‘Jesus Gonna be Here,’ ‘Get Behind the Mule,’ ‘Take Care of All My Children,’ ‘House Where Nobody Lives’ and ‘Make it Rain.’ A particularly inspiring version of ‘I Wish I was in New Orleans’ helped Waits earn the evening’s sole encore.

Dave Matthews also bounced between benefits, performing ‘Heart of Gold’ with Jimmy Buffet at Madison Square Garden before offering his own segment at Radio City Music Hall. A nine-song mix of solo numbers and DMB-classics, Matthews’ set mirrored his performance at Farm Aid earlier in the week. At the end of his performance, Anastasio also joined in on guitar for Matthews’ ‘Everyday’ and Phish’s ‘Bathtub Gin.’ Be sure to check this afternoon for a report on From the Big Apple to the Big Easy’s Madison Square Garden counterpart.

Stanton Moore, Jeff Coffin and Anders Osbourne join The Motet’s Katrina Relief Efforts; Group Announces Plans to Play Michael Jackson Covers During Halloween Run

Continuing with the day’s theme we offer you some benefit news from the Motet. Last Friday The Motet hosed a Katrina Relief benefit in Boulder, CO. At the start of the evening the Conscious Alliance collected items which it will personally deliver to Hurricane Katrina victims in the Gulf Coast later this year. Motet percussionist Scott Messersmith, a New Orleans native, also discussed his current efforts to help displaced New Orleans musicians relocate to Boulder. A number of familiar faces also stopped by to show their support during the group’s second set. Galactic’s Stanton Moore, The Flecktones’ Jeff Coffin, Anders Osbourne and Joey Porter each joined the group onstage for a 10-person version of The Motet’s ‘Heartbeat.’ Leaning heavily on its improvisation tendencies the group’s entire second set only consisted of only two songs with Osbourne taking the lead for much of the evening.
At the end of the first set, The Motet also announced that its annual Halloween Run would feature the music of Michael Jackson. The group’s Fright Night Colorado outing currently includes dates in Durango, Telluride and Boulder leading up to a Halloween performance at Denver’s Cervantes on October 31. Past Halloween tours have honored the music of Prince, the Tower of Power, Herbie Hancock and Stevie Wonder.

Everyone Orchestra: Collaborations for Katrina Relief

High Sierra Music and In Ticketing will present A Hurricane Katrina Relief Benefit with The Everyone Orchestra at San Francisco’s 12 Galaxies on September 25. In addition to group founder Matt Butler, this addition of the Everyone Orchestra will include String Cheese Incident’s Billy Nershi and Jason Hann, Jambay’s Mike Sugar and Chris Haugen, ALO’s Dan Lebowitz and Steve Adams, Hot Buttered Rum String Band’s Zac Matthews and Aaron Rednor, New Monsoon’s Bo Carper, Axis Brothers’ Dave Pellicciaro, Audio Angel, Samantha Stollenwerck and Julian Fritz. New Orleans native Kirk Joseph, who performs in Sousafunk and Anders Osborne’s band, will also help take the group to the outer limits. The evening’s net proceeds will be donated to the non-profit High Sierra Foundation which has established a special fund to give direct aid to musicians of New Orleans affected by Hurricane Katrina.

SCI in Syndication

etown is a syndicated Boulder based radio program available on NPR and commercial stations. Hosted by Hot Rize alumnus Nick Forster and his singer wife Helen Forster etown has helped spread an eclectic mix of grassroots music over the airwaves for years. Each episode the husband and wife couple record their program live at Colorado’s Boulder Theater, interspacing interviews between performances by guest artists. On Monday String Cheese Incident taped a performance on etown offerings such songs as ‘Sometimes a River,’ ‘Rainbow Serpent’ and ‘Big Compromise.’ As is custom etown’s host joined the episodes musical guests for a jam following their interview. String Cheese Incident elected to play a cover of ‘How Sweet It Is,’ also inviting out fellow episode guest ukulele player Jake Shimabukuro. Drummer Christian Teele and keyboardist Ron Jolly, who are part of the program’s etones house band, also joined in the extended jam session which closed out the recorded portion of the group’s set. Following its interview segment, String Cheese Incident offered an encore performance of ‘Lonesome Fiddle Blues,’ ‘One Step Closer’ and ‘Round the Wheel,’ encouraging the its audience to move like a normal Incident.