• 149 WESTCHESTER AVENUE, PORT CHESTER, NY 10573-4549 · (914) 937-4126

  • March 15th, 2018

    reCAP :: Steve Winwood + Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band :: 2018.03.14

    Words by Chad Berndtson
    Photos by Marc Millman

    Phil Lesh and Steve Winwood are 78 (today!) and nearly 70, respectively, and yet somehow, their much-anticipated co-bill at the Cap (“PhilWood,” as it was affectionately dubbed within seconds of being announced) was all about youthful vitality.

    There’s the avuncular, sage-like Lesh, grinning ever widely, proud that his time focusing on the Terrapin Family Band has turned it into a next-generation adventure with its own familiar, yet forward-looking approach to playing in the Grateful Dead forest. And there’s Winwood, who sounds as energetic as ever in his sixth decade as a musician, focused heavily with this incarnation of his band on classics of his time with Traffic, Blind Faith and the Spencer Davis Group and clearly just as excited and invested in the soulful, dense-and-intense music as he’s always been.

    Paired as co-headliners, they made for quite the panoramic night, flush with skywriting jams, sonic swells, choogling rhythms, loud guitars and boisterous vocals.

    Winwood’s current five-piece is one of his best-ever touring crews, charged with filling the big in songs like “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys,” “Pearly Queen,” “Had to Cry Today,” “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and “Can’t Find My Way Home” and getting there, every time. At the heart of it is Winwood and his seemingly ageless voice, but he offers his bandmates ample room to shine.

    From the boogieing opener “I’m A Man” straight through to a fist-pumping “Gimme Some Lovin,” Richard Bailey and Edwin Sanz were a ripping drums-and-percussion corps, over which guitarist Jose Neto, saxophonist Paul Booth and Winwood himself — on brilliant organ or soaring guitar — juiced the music with inspired flights or more subtle colors and shading. Singer Lilly Winwood, who’s been appearing often with dad on this tour, snuck in for a few near the end, including to add backing vocals to “John Barleycorn” and “Lovin’.”

    Lesh and the Family Band — multi-instrumentalist Jason Crosby, guitarists/singers Grahame Lesh and Ross James, drummer Alex Koford — came next and plunged headlong into a wonderfully unconventional setlist. Grahame Lesh, James and Koford split vocals on a pair of ripping psychedelic classics, “Born Cross-Eyed > Cream Puff War” and then the band shifted into a series of jamming vehicles, from a guitar-loaded “Jack Straw” to a sprawled-out take on Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” and a “China Cat Sunflower” that rapidly picked up speed, saw Crosby pick up his violin, and romp into “Cumberland Blues.” The lost Robert Hunter gem “Jack O’Roses” — originally part of the “Terrapin Station” suite but never played by the Grateful Dead — has been a glove-fit for this band, and it set up the hard-jamming finale of “Terrapin Station,” “New Speedway Boogie,” and then a cherry-on-top “Deal” in the after-midnight encore.

    It was a versatile display for a band that’s always seemed exuberant but not always adventurous — the next generation, assured.