Mattson and Barraco Play Deep Cuts in Brooklyn
Jeff Mattson and Rob Barraco of Dark Star Orchestra joined forces at Brooklyn Bowl earlier this month for two sets of classic rock rarities along with a dose of the Grateful Dead. The band, featuring Mattson on guitar and Barraco on bass instead of his usual keyboards, backed by Rob’s son Tom Barraco on the drums, dug deep into their influences for a set predictably heavy on jamming rooted in bluesy tunes drawn from a variety of influences.
The trio kicked off the show with a take on Johnny Otis’ “Willie and the Hand Jive,” an early rock number that has been covered by everyone from Eric Clapton to the Grateful Dead. Next up was a sped up rendition of Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” reminiscent of Richard Thompson’s version, which was appropriate because the trio next took on a Thompson tune,”Wall of Death.”
The meat of the first set came in the form of a lengthy take on “Bird Song” sandwiched around “Mason’s Children,” much to the delight of the heavily tie-dyed crowd, which was fairly rowdy for a Tuesday. The tributes to titans of songwriting continued with Paul Simon’s “Boy in the Bubble” and Neil Young’s “Mansion on the Hill.” The band promised a second set full of “all your favorite songs” before jokingly teasing “The Other One,” “Stairway to Heaven” and “Immigrant Song.” Rob Baracco mentioned his trepidation over the fact that Phil Lesh had recently covered “Free Bird,” a tune Baracco had sworn to never play. The set wrapped up with another Dylan tune, “Going Going Gone” segued neatly into Johnny Cash’s classic “Folsom Prison Blues.”
The second set began with another oft-covered early rock number, Rufus Thomas’ “Walking the Dog” featuring Jeff Toby on harmonica. The tributes to favorite artists continued with takes on Warren Zevon’s melancholic “Carmelita” and Cream’s heavy “SWLABR” wrapped around a Rob Barraco original “One Dog Blues” penned by dead lyricist Robert Hunter.
A tune called “Sleepwalking” featured a Jerry Garcia Band-style “Eleanor Rigby” in the middle. Emmylou Harris’ “The Maker” followed, given the equal jammed out treatment, which led nicely into a strong version of the Dead’s “The Eleven,” before a Jethro Tull tune, “Locomotive Breath,” closed out the set. The blues folk standard “Goodnight Irene,” another Jerry Garcia Band fave, was the encore. All in all, it was a fun show with the feel of a couple old friends jamming out on some favorite tunes, which essentially is what it was.
Check out our interview with Jeff Mattson HERE. Both Mattson and Rob Barraco will return to New York City this weekend for Dark Star Orchestra’s traditional Thanksgiving weekend two night engagement at Best Buy Theater. For tickets and additional tour dates, CLICK HERE.