Additional reporting by Scott Marks
When one of your favorite bands for nearly 20 years comes around to play a few shows at a venue only two hours away, you make that drive. In the case of Strangefolk, there were three nights of shows at Garcia’s at The Capitol Theatre, all worth the commute to Port Chester and full of surprises, guests, covers and classics.
With Jason Crosby (Susan Tedeschi Band, Phil and Friends) sitting in for the entire weekend on keys and fiddle, a venue that grew in attendance each night was treated to classic Strangefolk songs. Thursday’s first set featured “Roads,” “All the Same,” “Speculator” and a creative “Burned Down->Fire On the Mountain->Burned Down,” teasing a theme for the weekend’s sets. The second set led with five Grateful Dead songs: “Althea,” “Deal,” “Dark Hollow,” “Candyman” and “Tennessee Jed” before the band returned to originals including “Cabin John,” “Fountain” and “Westerly.” A surprise cover of John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery” sung poetically by Reid Genauer, preceded “Westerley” while an encore of “Valhalla” finished the night.
On Friday, fans were treated to more Grateful Dead and originals that featured significant exploration inside of jams. An extensive “Alaska” was found in the first set alongside rarer originals “Diary” and “Faces”. There was significant interplay between Jon Trafton and Crosby during “Rather Go Fishin’,” leading to a “Shake Your Body” jam that lit the crowd up.
Set 2 brought out more Dead songs, starting with “Shakedown Street,” “Brown Eyed Woman,” a crowd singalong of “Loser” and “Scarlet Begonias.” Originals ruled the rest of the evening with a lengthy fan favorite “Lines and Circles,” “Rachel” with Crosby on fiddle, “Songbeard,” “45 Degrees” and “So Well” closing out the set. A soulful encore of “Things That Fly” ended the night, a sweaty one for many as club had gotten steamy during the hot second set.
Strangefolk’s three night run at Garcia’s came to a close on Saturday with the trio Sam and Margo opening as fans slowly filled the room. Strangefolk greeted a sold out crowd with “Sweet Libation” before carving deep into their repertoire with “Like You Anyway” and “Poland.” Genauer then brought out Aaron Maxwell, Jon Bevo, and Dan Pifer from God Street Wine, noting that the stage was a “little bit like a clown car” as the musicians joined. God Street Wine had tweeted earlier in the day that the trio would be joining Strangefolk at Garcia’s that night, letting the anticipation build for those attending the show. Having previously teamed with Genauer and fellow Assembly of Dust band members Adam Terrelll and Dave Diamond in 2014 under the Assembly of Wine moniker, Saturday was a chance for the God Street Wine members to play with the rest of Strangefolk.
“Speculator” led off the collaboration between the two bands with Maxwell singing lead vocals and fellow God Street Wine alumnus Jason Crosby trading his keys for a fiddle. “Driving West,” a God Street Wine original, followed before “Sometimes” closed out the band team-up with Maxwell and Genauer trading vocals and Maxwell and Trafton exchanging guitar riffs. As the God Street Wine trio walked off the stage, Genauer hinted at what was to come by informing the crowd “they’ll be back later.” “Whatever” and “Reuben’s Place” closed out the strong opening set with the members of Strangefolk and Crosby posing for a “selfie” with the crowd in the background before heading off stage for the setbreak.
The second set featured the return of Maxwell, Bevo, and Pifer and a journey into the Grateful Dead’s catalog. A gorgeous 17 minute rendition of “Sugaree,” featuring Maxwell on vocals and Crosby returning to the fiddle began the set and “Eyes of the World,” “Jack Straw,” and “Franklin’s Tower” followed with the fans in attendance joyously soaking in every note. Strangefolk closed out the set with their own originals, starting off with Weightless in Water’s “Valhalla” and “Chasing Away,” “Dance,” “…As,” and “Roads” following suit and “Walnut” closing out a special evening and a great three nights in a special intimate room. Strangefolk will play next this summer at the Gathering of the Vibes in Bridgeport, CT and in September at Lockn’ Music Festival.