Well, it’s that time of year again, Phil Lesh’s birthday at The Capitol Theater. March 15th marked his 78th birthday and his 74th show at the Cap since it’s grand re-opening six years ago. This was a last minute show for me but not as last minute as it was for Lee the Jeweler.
A friend had two tickets available and I dove on them. Lee didn’t pick up her phone so I planned to sell the extra on-site. Just as I was about to leave town Lee calls. “What are you doing tonight?” She said enough of nothing for me to proceed. “I’m around the corner, we’re going to see Phil for his birthday at the Cap!” “How much does it cost, I can’t pay,” she laughs. A miracle for her is my gift to Phil.
Lee once told me about receiving a similar call to see the Dead (the Grateful Dead that is, for all you young folk) in Pittsburgh. She accepted and hopped in a car for the five-hour drive all without shoes; I was confident this would be a fine scenario. Dog walked, food secured for the ride, we headed upstate.
Turning the corner past the Cap is like coming home. Oh there’s, Ty, there, David, there’s, that dude who sells patches. A familiar scene with familiar faces. It is wonderful not having to ask who will be there because everyone is amazing and I’ll be sure to find many I know. Throughout the night many more would surface for Lee and me.
Lee hasn’t seen many (any?) iterations of the Dead since Jerry died in 1995. I explained that this band included his son on guitar and they served as the house band for his venue outside of San Francisco. As I described the intensity of past shows I realized I’ve only seen this lineup once and I had been describing Phil & Friends which often included Stanley Jordan as well. Concerned that I may have oversold the experience I realized we’d be happy dancing to anything they had to offer. Lee just wanted to hear Shakedown Street, I predicted it as a second set opener.
We spent the first set towards the back of the floor stage right. There was a bit of room to dance but it was tight and tough to see. The set was solid but tame and my concerns resurfaced. Maybe 78 years was catching up to Phil? Say it isn’t so!!! Stanley Jordan wasn’t there but is that John Scofield? Yes. Yes,
The second set found us in the lobby with the dancers. Lots more room, lots more fun. I introduced Lee to some of my friends and we spun, shook, and moved to a terrific set that squashed all my fears. Lee got her Shakedown early in the set and I got to see her light up. The next day I’d find a video of us on Facebook.
The night was a success. Another miracle, another escape into love and dance. Another year with Phil. Gratitude all around.