Boris Garcia w/ Tim Carbone 4.9.11

Boris Garcia Live at River Street Jazz Cafe on April 9, 2011.

Words & Photos By Jon Irvin

On the heels of Music Marauders’ Grateful Deadication Week, I found myself itching for some live music. Usually its slim pickings around North Central Pennsylvania, but Jerry himself must have been smiling down on me when I checked River Street Jazz CafĂ©’s website only to see Boris Garcia with special guest Tim Carbone (Railroad Earth) playing on Saturday, April 9th. I had heard good things about Boris Garcia in the past but never had the opportunity to check the band out for myself; there was no way I was going to miss this show. 

Master fiddler Tim Carbone was accompanying the Philadelphia-based band to help usher in its newest CD, Today We Sail, which he produced for the group. We arrived at the venue in plenty of time to enjoy a drink and a bite to eat while listening to the sound check. My attention was directly forwarded to the pedal steel, I have seen that only once before and it was in the hands of Robert Randolph tearing the roof off the Electric Factory. I thought, “Hmm…folk-grass with a pedal steel…this should be interesting…”    

Right out of the door, the crowd was greeted with a new original, “Walking Barefoot”, that resembling something taken and crafted from the Bob Weir playbook.  After a few songs, Carbone joined the stage with fiddle in hand and sat-in for the remainder of the first set. A person of Tim Carbone’s caliber sometimes overshadows the band he is performing with, but that wasn’t the case on this evening. The boys from Boris Garcia, Bob Stirner (electric guitar / vocals), Jeff Otto (bass / vocals / ukulele), Bud Burroughs (mandolin / bouzouki / keys), Stephe Ferraro (drums), and Chip Desnoyers(pedal steel), were leading Tim this evening. The ninety-plus minute set saw Boris Garcia covering selections from all of its albums as well as renditions of covers such as “Shady Grove” and “Friend of the Devil”. The set came to a foot-stompin’ end with a ‘swing yer partner’ style jam in “Schwenksville Town”, a perfect piece to showcase each member’s unique talents.

Unfortunately, we had to head home after the first set, but Boris Garcia thoroughly surprised me. I was expecting your typical pigeonholed Dead-esque band but was met instead with a sound that fused country, folk, and bluegrass with simplistic yet catchy lyrics and a splash of that island feeling. Boris Garcia may not be a Dead offshoot group, but after seeing it perform on this evening, I was left with the feeling that the band ought to be mentioned in the same breath with bands such as New Riders of the Purple and the Jerry Garcia Band.


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