Friday, January 18, 2008

Cosmic Charlie in Richmond Tonight!

Gonna be a throwdown tonight at the Canal Club. All that ever tapped a foot, shook their ass, or rode the sweet groove at a Dead show will do well to check out Cosmic Charlie. I first caught them by chance in Savannah and have been a believer ever since. Unlike bands like Dark Star Orchestra that replicate actual Dead shows, these guys channel the spirit of a Dead show while putting their own musical mark into the mix. They are not a just a cover band by any means. Their rythm guitarist John Miley summed it up pretty well one night at Alley Katz when we were discussing their approach to Grateful Dead music and how they differed from DSO. "The biggest difference," he said, "is we have fun with the music." He posed the question: "Have you ever had fun at a DSO show?"

While I personally love DSO and see them frequently, I could easily see his point. While DSO tends to channel the Dead's live experience by recreating shows actually performed by the Dead through the years down to the setlist and instruments, their product is often somber, reverent, and sometimes spooky. They are serious musicians and sometimes that seriousness can spoil the lightness and fun that all of us Deadheads remember and cherish. When it comes right down to it, that's why we continue to go to shows, to have fun and dance our asses off! Cosmic Charlie will deliver on both of those objectives.

Jim Reed, of Connect Savannah writes:
Initially formed in 1999 as a one-off project to laud fallen Grateful Dead guitarist and figurehead Jerry Garcia, this Athens-based tribute act has steadily risen among the ranks of many similarly-themed groups. Today, they are widely becoming known as one of the most faithful practitioners of this most sincere form of musical flattery. However, that doesn’t mean they sound just like the fabled Dead. In fact, one of the things that befuddles some in the crowds —but which has won them the acclaim and friendship of many actual associates of the GD— is their willingness to remain true to the restless spirit of that legendary improvisatory band of psychedelic warhorses.

Using The Dead’s back catalog and voluminous library of officially-sanctioned bootlegs as their guideposts, Cosmic Charlie pull standout tracks and basic arrangements, but pride themselves on applying the same unpredictable nature the original band was known for to their own live shows. And it’s working out very well.

While CC still play regularly at clubs and small venues across the USA, they are increasingly headlining shows in theatres and large, outdoor festivals (including festivals The Dead frequented in their heyday), and it is not uncommon for former GD members or associates to sit in with the group on stage — such as keyboardist Vince Welnick, Ratdog members Mark Karan and Robin Sylvester, and GD archivist and songwriter David Gans.

Says Gans of CC’s devotion to the music he’s devoted a large portion of his life to exploring, “They really are a great band - they do this music the way it should be done: by having the conversation in their own voices.”

This show marks the 12th anniversary of Garcia’s death, and will be their only local appearance this summer. And, yes, unlike The Dead, they do take requests.

So young and old should step out tonight and catch this band. If you like the music of the Dead, you wil not be dissapointed. And don't forget to say hello if you see me. I'll be the one with the good looking wife that dances her ass off!


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