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Published: 3/24/2011

Donna Jean Godchaux Joins Steve Kimock

Steve Kimock kicked off his weekly residency at New York’s Sullivan Hall last night. The show’s core band consisted of Kimock, keyboardist Henry Butler, bassist Andy Hess and drummer John Morgan Kimock. After opening his show with “Nana’s Chalk Pipe,” Kimock invited out his onetime Zero/Heart of Gold Band collaborator Donna Jean Godchaux for “Watchin’ the River Flow.” The Grateful Dead singer remained onstage for “Crazy Fingers,” “Scarlet Begonias,” “Eyes of the World” and “Franklins’ Tower.” The latter three songs of the set also featured Dead On guitarist/vocalist Matt Muller. Given the evening’s guests, the show featured one of Kimock’s more Dead-heavy solo set lists.

Band of Brotherz/Alphabet Soup vocalist Chris Burger also emerged during the ensemble’s second set to rap on “All Together Now.” Kimock’s Sullivan Hall residency will continue Wednesday night with special guests Marco Benevento, Lettuce’s Adam Deitch and The Slip’s Marc Friedman.

Source: Jambands

Donna Jean Godchaux Band with Jeff Mattson
Mexicali Live
Teaneck, NJ
March 19, 2011

written by Honest Tune

If Jeff Mattson’s (Dark Star Orchestra) mimicry of Jerry Garcia’s signature sound could find a home in a single Dead era, it would be the seventies. For this reason, his sound coupled with the voice of Donna Jean Godchaux-Mackay (whose Grateful Dead tenure spanned the decade of the same) possesses something that is unto itself a unique experience.

Godchaux, whose vocal accompaniment in many ways stood out far beyond those of her male counterparts, continues to have the pipes to belt out the chants that one cannot help But bellow (see the outro to any 1971-1979 "Playing in the Band" bridge-jam) when they are sung.

Coupled with the pipes, her soul shone just as brightly at New Jersey’s Mexicali Live on a recent spring night.

Setlist (courtesy of Donna Jean Godchaux Band)

Set I: Tore Up Over You, I Want to Tell You> Jam> Cosmic Charlie, Don’t Fight it*, Delta Jubilee*, Ramble On Rose, Mighty High*, Darkness Darkness> Eyes of the World

Set II: Mystery Train, Gone Gone Gone, Palm Sunday, Big Railroad Blues, Tear My Stillhouse Down, Back Around> The Maker> Not Fade Away> 19th Nervous Breakdown

Encore: You Ain’t Woman

*w/The B3s- Lizzie Friel (Reflections) and Joanne Lediger (Johnny Markowski Band)-vocals

By stringjamjazz (String_jam_jazz) on Monday, October 26, 2009 - 01:38 pm

If folks'll forgive the Xpost, here's the review I wrote of my Donna experience on Mule Army:

Donna Jean Godchaux Band
9/26/09 The 8x10. Baltimore, MD

w/Devin Greenwood (Donna Jean Band 1997)-keyboards
*w/Mookie Siegel (David Nelson Band, Ratdog, Donna Jean & the Tricksters)-keyboards

Set 1: New Speedway Boogie, It Takes a Lot to Laugh It Takes a Train to Cry, Brown Eyed Women, Don’t Fight It. They Love Each Other, Eyes of the World> Terrapin Station> Franklin ’s Tower> Drums> Mighty High

Set 2: From the Heart of Me, Fire on the Mountain> Ship of Fools, Mississippi Half Step, Catfish John*, Tore Up Over You E: Green River

I have to admit I didn't go to this show with high expectations. I was really going to lay eyes on Donna in person, icon of the 70s magic years of the Grateful Dead which were before my time. I thought the music would be nice, But unremarkable. Boy, was I ever wrong.

From the first lead, Jeff Mattson’s guitar just lit up the room. Now, I usually like any instrumentalist to have an original style. I usually pan imitators. Mattson is a Jerry Garcia imitator, But the imitation is so brilliant I was captivated by it. The sound was so totally steeped in the 70s Garcia Band style of playing – so stretched out and patient, getting every bit of resonance from each bell-clear note, working every possibility from each hand position before moving up or down. Impressive. This was the first show where I got to rock my Warren/Jerry “Blood of His Music” t-shirt and the blood of Jerry’s music was pulsing through Mattson’s guitar like I’ve rarely heard. I loved it.

Donna is in great, great voice nowadays. She sounds so much better now than she does on 70s show recordings. She sounds as good as she did on studio albums, lending credence to her statements that she couldn’t hear herself well enough in front of the Wall of Sound back in the day. From the Heart of Me and Ship of Fools were highlights – you won’t hear anything sweeter. Mattson has a nice, even, slightly soulful voice too and they blended well, especially on the rousing choruses of Mighty High. That version makes me think more of the Mighty Clouds of Joy than the Garcia Band.

The rhythm section kind of snuck up on me as the show progressed. Devin Greenwood is a weak soloist on keys, But as they got deeper in the setlist his playing off Mattson got better and better – harmonic, richly colored, very jazzy in a manner that recalled Keith’s early 70s playing in its effect But not in its sound. He wasn’t imitating, just getting to as interesting places. Joe Chirco on drums and David McKay on bass were very solid and tight throughout, But I noticed in first set that I wasn’t noticing anything special in what they were doing. Until Terrapin. When the crescendos started to rise at the end of Terrapin, both guys just exploded, roaring through it with intricate runs and shook the tiny little club hard. They faded back to flawless support after the drum solo, though McKay reasserted himself during the build at the end of ½ Step, playing some blistering, heavy parts that were the best bass playing I’ve seen by somebody other than Phil in a long time.

All that, plus a Mookie sighting, for $15 bucks. Fantastic evening. The only shame was that maybe 50 people witnessed first set, and at most 30 of us were still around by 1:30 am when the encore started. What this group is laying down deserves to be heard by many, many more folks than that.

Cloud Surfing by David Gans

(GD Hour) Review: Donna Jean Band at Gathering of the Vibes 7/23/09

Jeff Mattson had surgery a few weeks ago to correct a long-time problem with his lungs. He seems almost like a new man now; he has always been a powerful guitar player, But there was an exuberance in his playing last night that I found thrilling. And the rest of the band is right there with him – so much tighter and more entrained than they were at their deBut in April.

This being the Vibes, their set had more Dead songs and fewer originals than they would normally present, But it was exactly the right thing for the occasion. They opened with “New Speedway Boogie” followed by “Sugaree,” and Jeff played the first of several jaw-dropping solos in the latter song. Donna’s song “Don’t Ask Me Why” was next, and very well received by the crowd.

“Eyes of the World” was another instrumental tour de force, with Jeff leading the charge. His solos in the song proper were astonishing; David Mackay played a kick-ass solo leading out of the song, and the band executed that ‘74 post-Eyes thing with precision and awesome power. I don’t gush like this often, folks.

What came next was mind-blowing. Jeff led them gently into a groove on a D chord with an open E at the top, and then fleshed it out into a chord sequence that I quickly recognized as the Youngbloods’ “Darkness, Darkness.” What a great call, and the band did it justice and then some! Great jam in the middle, from which emerged an ensemble passage based on the solo in the original (on the album Elephant Mountain, a classic). Donna Jean’s singing on this was powerful and dark, as required by the text.

Another wonderful highlight was the return of “You Ain’t Woman Enough to Take My Man,” a Loretta Lynn hit that the GD did in ‘73. This time around they laid into it with a nasty rock’n'roll beat.

Along the way we heard plenty of find keyboard work from Mark Adler, who I think has come to this style of music relatively recently (he does movie music in LA for a living) and now he has it in his veins like the rest of us. And Joe Chirco is always a monster on the drums!

I was just thinking the other day that it’s been a long time since I got them ol’ chills at a live performance, and I got ‘em during “Darkness, Darkness.” But the whole set was a thrill. Go see the Donna Jean Godchaux Band!

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