Another great show from Mickey Hart and his band. After a week on tour, the band was ready to smoke! The energy was high throughout the show – this band gets better and better. Starting to really mix up the setlist, and throwing in some new things too, like the surprise Sly Stone cover “Papa Was A Rolling Stone”.

Crystal Hall is obviously having a blast, her sweet singing voice embraces the songs, and she’s rocking out on rhythm guitar too.   Gawain Matthews takes his solos and realy opens it up sonically into some high places we haven’t been before. And his interactions with bass player Dave Schools are cool, they  have a few laughs together while playing.

Tim Hockenberry has a deep rich voice, somewhere between Tom Waits and Peter Gabriel in timbre and expression.  Switching between keyboards and trombone, he’s a showman without showing off.

Of course the band keeps on groovin’ along with deep rhythm, Ian INKX Herman at the drum kit.  Mickey is the maestro, orchestrating cosmic sounds into songs; “Heartbeat” is created from the sounds of the sun, and while it is Mickey’s standard 2nd set opener, it is never the same twice, as it deeply entrances us into a deep state of awe. It was clear  Mickey was having more fun than ever in Healdsburg – his energy was more relaxed than the previous week in Santa Cruz, tuned in, and engaged with the audience at this show.  The tour has been going well,  he knows the music is good, and he invites us all to come along and “enjoy the ride!”  And you know that is what DHL is all about!

It was great to hear talking drum master Sikiru Adepoju  step up to the mic on “Who Stole The Show”!

Along with all the new songs, the band still broke out some Grateful Dead tunes; Mickey told me last summer, it is part of who he is.  Crysrtal sang “Brokedown Palace” in the middle of set one – nice placement, this song does not have to live as an encore always.   And a fun and hot “Franklin’s Tower” closed the first set leaving us all smiling as we migrated out for setbreak.

A nice crowd of mostly locals from Healdsburg, Santa Rosa, and Sonoma county in general.  Each town has such a different vibe, and this wasdefinately the wine country crowd, relaxed and chatty, socializing freely durring the break  (where as Santa Cruz was more “hippie”, with large portions of the audience doing stretches and yoga between sets, nothing worng with it, but very differnet energy!)   This was the closest to Mickey’s hometown show, and it had a very freindly feel to it.   Most of the band members had friends and family there, and it felt open to hang out and talk.

Set two included a powerful version of  “The Other One” that segued into the new song “Cut The Deck”, which really impressed my friend who had come with me – she is not a Deadhead, by the way. She turned to me and said “I really like this song!”    It could actually be a break out, I could see this getting airplay on non-deadhead radio.   If you don’t tell people it’s by someone in the Grateful Dead, you might be able to slip it by them!

I spoke with Tim Hockenberry and keyboardist/producer Ben Yonas after the show, and they were both very excited about the new CD.   They’re proud of their work, and can’t wait for you to hear it.   The CD drops on April 10th, Mysterium Tremendium on Shout! Factory records.  DHL will be reviewing it for you shortly.   The live versions are great – can’t wait to hear what the studio version sounds like.

Enjoy the great pictures here from my old friend Cheryl Alterman, of Cheryl Alterman Photography.  While not a Deadhead, Cheryl’s been going to concerts with me since we were teenagers, and it was fun for me to turn her on to the Mickey Hart Band.  I think she had fun… it’s infectous!  Mickey and his band have a good thing going here, and the newness of it is exciting.  It is so differnet than anythng else in the Dead ‘lands! It’s fresh and fun, danceable, and meaningful.

Keep on rocking Mickey and band, you know our love will not fade away!