Dear Liza
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"Phil Lesh, Blues Traveler And Dear Liza Help Save The rainforest"


Wed. June 30.1999 3:01 AM EDT

Blues Traveler, Phil Lesh Jam To Save Rainforest


Ex-Grateful Dead bassist sits in with N.Y. quartet at San Francisco benefit.

by Correspondent Rich Simon


Phil Lesh (right) joined Blues Traveler in San Francisco for what was billed as the band's only 1999 West Coast date. (Maurice Ramirez)


SAN FRANCISCO — Phil Lesh's jam sessions with his friends have been hot tickets lately. But Blues Traveler turned the tables Monday, inviting the ex-Grateful Dead bassist to jam with them as part of the Blues Traveler and Friends
concert at the nearly full 3,500-seat Warfield Theater.

Longtime Bay Area resident Lesh accepted, sitting in with the genial New York blues-rock quartet for a fat-bottomed, two-bass rendition of "Sweet Talkin' Hippie" from the band's eponymous 1989 debut.

The show, billed as Blues Traveler's only West Coast date this year, was a benefit for the Rainforest Action Network — an organization founded in the mid-1980s to combat the rampant destruction of the rainforests by corporate interests. Caught up in the spirit of the event, the band came on strong.

"We haven't played in a long time, and you've made us feel very welcome," said singer/harmonica virtuoso John Popper, in trademark black leather fedora and harmonica-filled bandoleers, as the crowd cheered the band's appearance.

The first set opened strong with the band revving up a ferocious "Crash Burn" from Four (1994) and a big-grooving "Slow Change" from Blues Traveler (1990).

After four songs, Popper introduced Lesh, who stood between drummer Brendan Hill and bassist Bobby Sheehan. Lesh, 59, took care to watch Sheehan for the changes in "Sweet Talkin' Hippie," as the lights glowed blue and purple.

Since the 1995 breakup of psychedelic-rock standard-bearers the Dead following guitarist Jerry Garcia's death, Lesh has hosted numerous jam sessions with members of Phish, the Allman Brothers Band, Hot Tuna and fellow Dead alumni. Now he was an honored guest.

As the tempo of "Sweet Talkin' Hippie" picked up, guitarist Chan Kinchla and Popper explored a quicker-paced melodic jam that gave Lesh a good workout and caused some of the mellower dancers on the floor to lose the rhythm of the song. Popper then scatted and led the audience in a call-and-response chant.

The audience stomped out the beat, and Lesh aimed his instrument's neck into the crowd, as if fending off an invading horde.

Lesh left, and the band covered Stevie Wonder's upbeat "Sir Duke," then slowed down for "The Mountains Win Again" from 1991's Travelers and Thieves and "Hook" from Four.

During Blues Traveler's second set, Popper introduced local keyboardist Merl Saunders, who contributed to the band's 1993 Save His Soul album. Saunders sat in on the ecological-warning number "Whoops."

Blues Traveler reached back to their debut album again for the hard-rocking tune "Mulling It Over," which segued into their first hit, "But Anyway." Saunders left the stage, and the band played "Gina," which led to a take on John Lennon's one-world anthem "Imagine," and then back into "Gina."

Kinchla slid his fingers through the raunchy blues intro to "Carolina Blues" (RealAudio excerpt) from Blues Traveler's fifth and most recent studio album, Straight on Till Morning (1997). Then Popper brought out violinist Mike "Pieface" Fiorentino of the show's opening act, Dear Liza, for a version of the Charlie Daniels Band's "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" done dirty-funk style.

"It absolutely blew me away," said 32-year-old San Franciscan Eddie Bardon, who paid $150 for a floor ticket to the show. "I have a bunch of [Blues Traveler] CDs ... [but] I had no idea that they were like that live. They were one with each other. Completely, total shredding. Heavy shredding. I would go see them again, and I would pay twice as much."

Randy Hayes, a co-founder of Rainforest Action Network, also was delighted with Blues Traveler's efforts. "Music has inspired social movements forever," Hayes said. "Music is the stuff of revolution ... people who care about music care about nature, care about Earth, care about the rainforest, and music is a fantastic vehicle for us to get the message out, to raise money."

Seats in the upper balcony cost $30 for the evening, but some patrons donated up to $10,000 to the cause to enjoy a preshow vegan buffet with free-flowing wine. During dinner, the PA system washed the crowd with the sounds of the rainforest — from squawking birds to thunderstorms. A silent auction featured a Modulus bass and a guitar signed by Blues Traveler. Harmonicas signed by Popper were auctioned live for $350 and $550.

The opening set by Bay Area-based five-piece Dear Liza (Scott Rednor, acoustic guitar/vocals; Steve Rowen, electric guitar/vocals; Greg Glasson, bass; Glenn Grossman, drums; and Fiorentino, violin/mandolin) ranged from mellow folky tunes to heavier, prog-rock jams. Rowen and Rednor traded off vocals, while Fiorentino's violin gave the band both a country tinge and a far-out spaciness.

Hayes said the Rainforest Action Network hoped to raise $100,000 from the benefit. The organization is working with the indigenous U'wa people to stop California-based Occidental Petroleum from destroying Colombian rainforest land, and to negotiate with hardware giant Home Depot (which has a 25 percent share of the lumber market) to stop selling lumber from old-growth forests.

"Rainforest Action Network is about providing avenues of action to help regular people out there, music lovers, be a part of the solution, instead of the problem," Hayes said. - VH1


Discography

Dear Liza: The Fort
Dear Liza: Jalopy
Dear Liza: Back to That Day
Dear Liza: Live at The Conduit
Dear Liza: The Mystery Cowboy
Scott Rednor: Music For People

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Bio

Dear Liza was formed in the winter of 1995 in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Led by Cory Hubbert, Scott Rednor and Greg Glasson, the band
exploded onto the Colorado music scene and went on to become
one of the hardest touring bands of the 90’s in North America.
Blending a mixture of Americana, Bluegrass, World Music and
Roots rock the band went on to perform over 1200 shows over a
five year period. What is now dubbed as the jam band generation
“Dear Liza” was lumped into similiar scenes of bands like The Spin
Doctors, Blues Traveler, Big Head Todd and Rusted Root. Dear liza
eventually struck a management deal with David Precheur who also
spearheaded the career of Blues Traveler. The band
quickly amassed a large following in the midwest as well as the east
coast of the United States, constantly touring and widening its touring circuit
every month. A high profile tour with Blues Traveler soon
followed for their Grammy award winning album “FOUR” and
brought the band into large arenas and stadiums exposing them to
a larger audience. As the 90’s progressed Dear Liza released studio and live albums and
continued to play shows all over the world. The band still remains tight and still loves to play together...But does not tour 250 shows a year anymore. The band still draws a large following when playing out and does individual projects on the side including bassist Greg Glasson's other gig playing bass with SEAL. The band is extremely professional and comfortable playing to 20 people or 50,000.

Booking: Old World Entertainment 1.603.767.5757
gregglasson@gmail.com

Dear Liza is currently booking a Summer Tour with some very special guests and some festivals in the states. We look forward to playing in 2010.