Hart’s “super band” shakes Southgate House

Mickey Hart Band
Southgate House
Newport, Kentucky
July 2, 2008

The influence Mickey Hart has amassed amongst world beat musicians and aficionados everywhere is sprawling, so it was no surprise that there was anticipation building for the opening date of the Grateful Dead drummer’s summer tour at Newport, Kentucky’s Southgate House on July 2. Set to coincide with the release of his his new double DVD, Rhythm Devils, the tour brought in some new players, including keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth of String Cheese Incident fame.

Of course, Mickey is an open ended book when it comes to sharing the stage, and Hollingsworth made his impact early on, coloring the Robert Hunter penned "Your House" with bluesy runs on organ. Stage right was crowded with talent, including Mr. Hart, and Steve Kimock lit up the room with inspired soloing on another Hunter gem, "The Center." Translating Hunter’s lyrics in a forceful manner, former lead singer for Deep Banana Blackout, Jen Durkin, engaged the Southgate’s dancing floor with an aged yet timely message driven number from the Workingman’s Dead album’s heyday, the dark tinged "New Speedway Boogie."

The entire Southgate House was soon pulsing in one giant sing-a-long. Walfredo Reyes Jr. keep the beat alongside Hart, moving the group in and out of Drums- Space movements that would have even made the Dead envious. Clearly the star of the evening, however, turned out to be the master of the Talking Drum, Sikiru Adepoju, who shared the side stage area with Kimock and Hart, beating on a tiny little drum that sounded so massive it seemed to dwarf the rest of the band’s swirling percussive improvisations.

That’s not to say that George Porter Jr. on bass is to be ignored. Quite the opposite, as the big man proved to be a true monster, thwarting Hunter’s "Fountains of Wood" to his inimitably recognizable bass lines while cohesively grounding Hart’s ensemble into a mighty grooving engine. The finale of the set proved to be the Dead favorite "Fire on the Mountain" as Hart announced there would be no encore due to the collective’s need to break down gear and travel northward towards the Rothbury Music Festival. But, it was enough of a taste of the deliciously stirring super band, and had many filing out elated from the concussively rocking experience.