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Monday, January 22, 2018

The World of Captain Beefheart at City Winery

Living in Syracuse, New York, a nine-year-old Gary Lucas was encouraged by his father to learn to play the guitar at the age of nine. This led to playing in bands during his teens in the 1960s. He then travelled on what he calls a "pilgrimage" to see childhood hero Don "Captain Beefheart" Van Vliet. The two became friends, and Lucas eventually became Beefheart's co-manager, occasionally performed on stage with Beefheart and played on Beefheart's records. Beefheart retired in the 1980s, but Lucas continued collaborating with Beefheart's musicians and in 2006 led a Beefheart tribute band, Fast 'n' Bulbous: the Captain Beefheart Project. Beefheart died in 2010. Lucas’ latest ensemble, The World of Captain Beefheart, consists of Lucas, vocalist Nona Hendryx (ex-Labelle), keyboardist Jordan Shapiro (ex-Gods and Monsters), bassist Jesse Krakow (ex-Fast 'N' Bulbous) and drummer Richard Dworkin (ex-Alex Chilton, ex-Fast 'N' Bulbous). The World of Captain Beefheart's self titled debut album was released on November 10, 2017.

The World of Captain Beefheart's performance tonight at City Winery was more than a tribute band concert. The evening's multi-media experience began with Lucas relating an unscripted memoir of his relationship with Beefheart, followed by rare video clips of Beefheart in concert, live readings of Beefheart's poetry by Bob Holman and Tammy Faye Starlight, a slide show of Beefheart's artwork and artifacts, and the band's performance. In the 1970s, Beefheart's coarse and abrasive music was groundbreaking but underappreciated or unknown to the general music community; his catalog was a raw and chaotic synthesis of rhythm and blues, free jazz, rock and blues. The World of Captain Beefheart polished many of the songs and made them more accessible, especially with Hendryx replacing Beefheart's gravelly vocals with her smoother, soulful singing. While not as radical as the original versions, the set crackled with Beefheart's artistic wizardry, maintaining an obtuse edge that might have made Beefheart proud. Lucas' new venture succeeded in faithfully kept alive the legacy of Captain Beefheart, although it may not satisfy the purists.

Setlist:
  1. Old Fart at Play (poem read by Bob Holman)
  2. Hollow Smoke (Captain Beefheart poem read by Tammy Faye Starlite)
  3. Suction Prints
  4. Sun Zoom Spark
  5. The Smithsonian Institute Blues (Or the Big Dig)
  6. I'm Glad
  7. A Carrot Is as Close as a Rabbit Gets to a Diamond
  8. When It Blows Its Stacks
  9. Sure 'Nuff 'n Yes I Do
  10. Dali's Car
  11. Sugar 'n' Spikes
  12. Click Clack / Ice Cream for Crow
  13. Evening Bell
  14. Well
  15. When Big Joan Sets Up
  16. Her Eyes Are a Blue Million Miles
  17. My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains
  18. Tropical Hot Dog Night
  19. Too Much Time
Encore:
  1. Diddy Wah Diddy (Bo Diddley cover)