Last week the Golden Gate Wingmen took the stage at the well-renowned New York City venue, Irving Plaza. Surprise guest DJ Logic sat in with the band for the entire night, adding a unique turntable texture to the Dead-family group. Each member of the Golden Gate Wingmen has deeply set roots in the continuation of the Dead’s music. The band is comprised of Jeff Chimenti, who plays keys for RatDog, Furthur, and Dead & Co, Jay Lane who plays drums in Furthur and RatDog, Reed Mathis, who has a history of playing with Phil Lesh, Micky Hart and Bill Kreutzmann on bass, and the band’s creator and leader, John K, a founding member of Dark Star Orchestra, lead guitar for Furthur, and a regular friend in Phil Lesh and Friends.
Opening the set with a cover of Bob Dylan’s “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry,” the band instantly shaped a Grateful Dead vibe. After playing an original and another Dylan cover, “To Ramona,” the band finally dropped into a proper Grateful Dead song, “Ramble on Rose,” which had the whole crowd singing along. After another original, the band transitioned to another Dead song, “Shakedown Street,” to close out the first set. DJ Logic’s turntable work combined with each member’s unique style made for a unique rendition of the classic, as opposed to a verbatim Dead cover which has become increasingly common as of late.
Opening the second set with a wildly jammed-out “Sugaree,” the Golden Gate Wingmen took this song into their own unique place. Each member on stage added to the organized mayhem; Chimenti playing raindrop like melodies on the Fender Rodes, John K ripping Garcia-esque solos, Mathis using an octave pedal and some other unusual effects to take some unique solos and interesting back-and-forths with Kadlecik. “Sugaree” certainly stood out as the jam of the night that had the whole crowd dancing. Followed by a slow, Dead-inspired original and a solid rendition of the Dead’s “Brown Eyed Women,” the band brought out a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “The Rain Song,” before the band took off into to a more traditional take on the quintessential 1977 Dead tune, “Lady with a Fan > Terrapin Station.” Finishing off Terrapin the band went into the heart-wrenching Dead song, “So Many Roads,” which was one of the last songs Jerry played before his tragic death in 1995.
After “So Many Roads” the Wingmen closed out the second set with a nicely jammed-out “Not Fade Away,” a classic the Dead regularly covered. After a momentary off-stage departure, the band returned for a well-deserved encore of the touching Dead song “Ripple.” The Wingmen once again brought this song to an excellent jam full of improv from each member before returning to the original song to top off the night. With this successful East Coast run, The Golden Gate Wingmen have proven themselves to be a unique Dead tribute act not to be missed by Deadheads and fans of jam music alike.
Set 1: It Takes A Lot to Laugh, A Train to Cry*, The Business*, To Ramona*, Ramble On Rose, It’s Alright, Skakedown Street*
Set 2: Sugaree*, Far Enough*> Brown-Eyed Women, The Rain Song, Lady with a Fan*>Terrapin Station*>, So Many Roads, Not Fade Away*