Monday, August 5, 2013

Mickey Hart's Superorganism at the Showbox in Seattle

Mickey Hart Band still surprises and delights, in fact, the experience keeps getting better and better. His "Superorganism" tour pulsed and throbbed at the Showbox in downtown Seattle on Saturday night, with the highest quality music and musicianship, while--get this--a three-dimensional real-time electronic image of Mickey's brain rotated on the backdrop. I kid you not! Whether the electrode cap Mickey donned was actually connected to the computer or not, I wasn't sure, and at some point I didn't care one way or another--the music was so moving, so brilliant.

As if that weren't enough, the new bassist, Reed Mathis, absolutely owned the lower register like no one I've seen, except for maybe Phil Lesh or Robyn Sylvester. Reed plays that nice old P-bass full-throttle, as if he were a lead guitar player on a Strat, picking intricately, or outright whaling, whatever the music required, and more. His playing drew me in, melodic and modulating, and then POW! Power. Reed's band, Tea Leaf Trio, opened the show with a half-hour set that elevated the experience and set the stage for the transformation to come. 

Guitarist Gawain Matthews reminded me a lot of Jon Herington, who plays with Steely Dan--young, wiry, with a delicate touch and rich warm tone, like a younger, spryer Walter Becker. Sound images of David Gilmour at times--you know how David plays: spartan, with incredible feeling, but just the right note at the right time. 

I have to also call out the superb singer, Crystal Monee Hall. One of those deep, rich, yet melodic voices you very rarely come across--she was the perfect complement, her driving voice surfing the polyrhythmic waves.

A long-time fan, I enjoyed every minute of the show. The energetic though mellow crowd danced and grooved, and yet seemed to truly listen. Mickey's love for the music and his humor and humanity shine through in everything he does. I appreciated Mickey's message to the audience at the end, when we were all glowing and spent: "Take this vibe and do good with it."

The Mickey Hart Band consists of Grammy-winning percussionist and longtime band mate Sikiru Adepoju, super-fantastic singer Crystal Monee Hall, singer and multi-instrumentalist Joe Bagale, drummer Greg Schutte, guitarist Gawain Matthews, bassist Reed Mathis (Tea Leaf Green), and keyboardist/sound designer Jonah Sharp.

In celebration of Mickey's 70th birthday in September, many of the upcoming SUPERORGANISM tour dates will feature guest musicians and friends of Mickey's. Special guests the Tea Leaf Trio (Trevor Garrod, Reed Mathis, and Cochrane McMillan, of Tea Leaf Green) will open the majority of the dates. Mathis will perform double duty each night playing with both the Tea Leaf Trio and the Mickey Hart Band.

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