If there’s one word that can describe the night at the Mickey Hart show in West Hollywood on Saturday, that word is SMILES. Smiles on the faces of the elated, near sell-out, crowd. Smiles on the faces of the band members. Last, but certainly not least, a smile as wide as the Grand Canyon on the face of Mickey Hart. They say that Disneyland is the “Happiest Place on Earth” but I’d have to believe that the House of Blues during the Mickey Hart show challenged that title on Saturday night.
This night in West Hollywood was not your typical Mickey Hart show. Oh, no. It was so much more. Kicking off the night upstairs in the Voodoo Lounge was none other than Taro Hart, Mickey’s son, and his band. Joining Taro on a few tunes including the crowd favorite, “Up in the Clouds” closer, was Michael Russeck, keyboardist for So. California jamband, Quactus. Quactus and GrooveSession followed Taro’s set and both delivered amazing sets of music whipping the Voodoo Lounge into a frenzy that would take them downstairs to see Mickey Hart Band.
Not that unexpected or shocking, prior to the Mickey Hart Band began a full on drum circle ensued on the dance floor of the House of Blues. As if to call the ponies to post or the hippies to dance, if you will, the drum circle set the tone for what would be an amazing night of music from the legendary drummer/percussionist for the Grateful Dead.
Naturally it wouldn’t be a Mickey Hart show without the smattering of classic Grateful Dead tunes mixed in with his interplanetary originals. This night was right on track with first set “Bertha”, “Shakedown Street” and a “Scarlett Begonias>Fire on the Mountain” closer. Second set kicked off with Mind Your Head, featuring a video “show” of Mickey’s brain waves from a live EEG machine. That led into a vintage “Birdsong” into “Iko Iko”. At this point is where the cerebral met the interstellar Mickey Hart as he and his band took the audience on an intergalactic meets inter-space journey of rhythmic drumming combined with electronic tones and jams that, nearly literally, tele-ported the House of Blues into outer space.
They wrapped it all up into a nice neat package and sent the crowd home with the familiar “Franklin’s Tower” as a closer and a most heart warming “Stella Blue” encore. Joining Mickey Hart Band for this tour was a familiar face from the world of West Coast jambands, Reed Mathis of San Francisco’s Tea Leaf Green.