ridgewood & wyckoff, nj
Wow, it's been a loooong while since I've reviewed a GSW show and I couldn't be more thrilled with the opportunity to do it. Winos have been waiting years for God Street Wine to get back together, unfortunately it turned out to be for a pretty shitty reason. Legendary first Wino (and taper) Paul Ducharme passed away in April. Perhaps you have some early GSW tapes from Paul? If not, you should download one and hear what the band sounded like in '89*. Thusly, the one and only God Street Wine got together for the most appropriate tribute to Paul: a full day of GSW that became a reunion on many different levels.
The afternoon started out with a tribute to Paul at Citizen's Park in Ridgewood, NJ, where friends & relatives shared thoughts about him. They played some of his favorite music and the band Native played a set. However, the bomb-diggity happened when God Street Wine gathered from various parts of the globe and made music together again. It's been roughly 8 years since the last reunion happened at Wetlands Preserve before it's doors were closed for good. Too long.
The set was peaceful, beautiful, and sweet. Highlights? Well, pretty much everything- I ain't gonna complain. Shocked to hear Weird Dream, captured by Driving West, 6:15, Borderline. Shit. I wanted to hear the whole thing over again. 8 years? The familiarity came right back. It could have been last week. The audience was a bizarre mix of people which included both friends of Paul's & assorted Winos collected over the years. It was certainly interesting to see band members now with full families (a full soccer team roster of kids), das Bullethead (now a father-- scary), and those who haven't aged a day in 15 years (Dan Pifer).
But there was a little something extra up everyone's sleeve- namely, a full-on Jersey house party complete with GSW show.
What the hell is going on? A few hours later we converged upon the unsuspecting hamlet of Wyckoff, NJ where God Street Wine was about to go back in time and play their friend Steph Rein's basement. Literally- a basement**. Cinderblock, foundation, old fridge, exposed plumbing, B-A-S-E-M-E-N-T. Ohh, what will the neighbors think? Native opened the night with a set of soulful & funky hippie rock. Totally awesome but honestly, I can't remember much because I was incredibly preoccupied with the thought of another GSW show-- 2 in 1 day! In 2009! I had seen Lo & Aaron play during Echofission's set the previous week at Mexicali- but a full GSW show??? AGH!
We all scrambled to get good spots, people fiddled with a/v equipment, smoke filled the air and GSW took the "stage". No lowlights really, but highlights for sure: Gretchen, Pussycat. Other Shore was pure madness, jaws dropped, wide smiles all around, and a surreal feeling overcame us all. I don't know if it was from inhaling the black mold or what, but during the 2nd set- specifically, during Crazy Head, something mysterious happened- the air in the basement actually turned upside-down and then when Henrietta kicked in, every single one of us was transported back in time to the year 1994. I don't know how else to explain it. Something weird happened in that basement and only the witnesses can attest to it. My skin crawled, but it felt warm, exciting, and good.
Hey Joe, Electrocute, Epiphany, Diana-- all of it magical. A few of Paul's friends grabbed some instruments and played St. Stephen as a tribute. Then came the therapeutic chanting- a hypnotic seance of sorts as Aaron told the story of the origin of the chant, and everyone repeated "a Love Ducharme, a Paul Supreme". Wine, smoke, chanting, and a strange energy filled the air. Then, a touching Epilog, a fun & high energy GOTT, and a wailing Into the Sea.
It was amazing to see the guys but even more amazing to hear them after so many years apart- there were moments you couldn't tell the difference- they were rippin'. My ears couldn't have been happier***. Something very special happened in that basement and I'm incredibly fortunate to have been invited to share it. I want to thank all of Paul's friends for organizing such a special day and letting some random Winos (such as myself) crash and feel welcome. It was amazing to see tons of familiar faces and reconnect with such good people after so many years. The entire day embraced the theme of love & celebrating Paul's attitude by sharing some of his favorite music, it will always bring a smile to my face.
I got yelled at for suggesting that the Phish shows were anticlimactic because the GSW show was so mind boggling. You know what? Eff the haters, I'm standing by my words. GSW were back and they rocked my world. No- you cannot have my Phish tickets.
DAY SHOW, West Side Presbyterian Church, Ridgewood, NJ
DEFINITELY DL THE AFTERNOON SHOW!
Waiting for the Tide
NIGHT SHOW, Steph Rein's basement, Wyckoff, NJ
AND MOST DEFINITELY DL THE NIGHT SHOW!
Goodnight Gretchen >
A Love Supreme >
Brand New Pussycat
Fortress Of Solitude
Other Shore >
A Love Supreme >
A Love Supreme
Somewhere Over The Rainbow
St Stephen #
A Love Ducharme - A Paul Supreme
Death Don't Have No Mercy
Get On The Train
Into The Sea
# w/ Andy Berian on guitar & Roger Sands on drums
ADDITIONALLY: Mike Weiss has an assortment of footage up on his youtube page from both the afternoon and night shows- give it a looksy!
*author's note: they sounded much better in '92+ so you may want to DL one of these shows too, the band would probably appreciate it. try THIS ONE or THIS ONE.
** Legend has it that GSW played this very basement in the early days
*** One lone complaint: we were totally gypped out of an encore- not even a Nightingale or Wendy? Hm. Better be saving it for next time. They'd better... (shaking fist angrily)