Volume #26, Issue #2


            I just listened to The Strange Remain, the brand-spanking new debut release from The Other Ones, and I’ve got to say that I was more than pleasantly surprised! Imagine, the ultimate Dead cover band doing Dead covers really well. The “St. Stephen” opener brought tears to my eyes. Taken from last summer’s Furthur Festival, the band is incredibly tight and exuberant.

            “Sugaree” is as sweet as can be. “Corrina” makes its first public appearance on a record. There are a couple of Hornsby cuts as well as two new compositions, “Banyan Tree” and “Baba Jingo”. Referred to as “a little souvenir of the expedition known as Furthur 1998”, the CD holds no info on which shows the songs were culled from, who’s singing or playing what, but it doesn’t really matter. It’s all good and it promises a future of music. Additionally, the packaging is exquisite. If you haven’t already done so, get out to your local record shop and buy this two-disc set.

            On a personal note, the “unofficial” name of the Toni Brown Band is The Strange Remains and I was surprised to find that was the title of The Other Ones’ CD, but hey now, I humbly acquiesce. When I first read the words to that particular piece in Robert Hunter’s book, A Box of Rain (Viking), it touched me so spiritually that I immediately put the words to an ethereal musical landscape. This was before Mickey Hart put the lyrics to his own rhythm. The words are darkly moving, but not fully comprehensible on the album, given Hart’s rap arrangement—which actually premiered on his release, Supralingua (Rykodisc)—and here, howling wolves are dubbed into the soundscape. I recommend seeking out the lyrics for the full impact of this incredible piece and if you don’t already own Hunter’s book, it belongs in your collection.

            San Francisco’s Mayor Willie B. Brown Jr. has declared February 13th Merl Saunders Day. Merl’s birthday is the 14th, but Cupid already had that day pegged, so Merl celebrated his 65th birthday on February 13th at The Fillmore with Vassar Clements and other special friends.

            The Allman Brothers booked into the Beacon Theater in New York City for over 20 shows this March.

            Wetlands celebrated its 10th anniversary with a month-long series of events including three nights of Weir and Wasserman and three nights of Frogwings (featuring John Popper, Jimmy Herring, Oteil Burbridge, Butch Trucks, Derek Trucks, Marc Quinones and special guest Warren Haynes). A special jam took place on February 14th featuring many of the musicians that have worked at the club since its opening. We’ll provide details next issue.

            I’ve been busy in the studio recording a new CD with my band and expect to have it ready in time for Xmas. Hope to see you on the road this summer at one of the many musical gatherings that will highlight the season.

In peace, love and light,

Toni A. Brown

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