New York, New York
January 22, 2010
On Saturday, January 22, moe. held a benefit concert in NYC at the Roseland Ballroom to raise money for WHY (World Hunger Year), a foundation aimed at helping the less fortunate. Stations were set up all over the venue to help raise money for this cause and it was later announced that some funds will be going directly to relief for Haiti. This is not the first time moe. has performed in order to raise money for charity; in February 2005 they held a concert at Roseland with Trey Anastasio and others billed as the Tsunami Relief Benefit. That being said, on to the show…
moe. came out rocking with a smokin’ "Timmy Tucker." Lead singer Rob Derhak’s bass slapping was off the charts as Al Schnier took the first guitar solo. Schnier slowly built up a Jerry Garcia-esque solo before handing over the reigns to Chuck Garvey, whose fingers moved so fast they were almost a blur.
Known as a very "chilled" and "laid back" group, moe. exuded energy at the Roseland. Garvey seemed like a man possessed as he jumped on top of a large amp holding a long note while lifting his axe above his head and pointing the neck out to the audience. The crowd responded by screaming at the top of their lungs and the band moved into "Bearsong" before bringing up Marco Benevento (keys) and Danny Barnes (banjo).
Together with Marco and Danny, moe. began "Captain America" and promptly asked Jeff Austin for help on "Caveman" and "Nebraska." The three special guests added a whole new dimension to moe.’s sound, with the bluegrass vibe coming from Barnes and Austin and a heavy gospel tone from Benevento. Then the last announced guest – and probably the biggest name – walked on stage and sat behind the empty second drum kit.
Although he is hard to pick out of a crowd, once the name Butch Trucks is mentioned (or any Trucks, for that matter) one automatically thinks Allman Brothers. After the crowd favourite "Happy Hour Hero," Rob ripped into the thunderous intro of "Whipping Post." Chuck and Al came in after Rob, and then Marco played the classic organ riff to a tee. Jeff Austin put down his mandolin to take the lead on the mic and sang with a growl. This was the first time moe. had tackled this very difficult and long (16+ minutes) jam and they nailed it. The lights were off the charts, especially when Garvey held those classic eight notes before the song was turned back over to Austin to bring it all back home and close the first set.
Opening the second set with the instrumental "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" gave the crowd a chance to get back on the floor and gear up for more music. After a 17 minute version of "Waiting for the Punchline," moe. played some of their guests’ music. "The Real Morning Party" is a Benevento original from 2008’s Invisible Baby, an instrumental song that showed just how talented the organist really is and introduced a lot of moe. fans to his music.
Jeff Austin once again took the lead as the group played YMSB’s "East Nashville Easter," a song that can best be described as "bluekickgrass rock," and with moe., Barnes and Benevento on board, the tune turned into a whole new beast.
moe. closed the set with two of their own, the first being "Blue Jeans Pizza" with just Marco joining them. The second was "Mexico," a song sung by Al with great solos all around. Trucks came back on stage to end the set with this song and the extra percussion gave it that little extra something that made it a great closer.
For the encore moe brought back everyone to help with the classic Band song,"The Weight." The song started with Rob taking the first verse, Austin taking the second and Chuck taking the third. Everything went off without a hitch until it was time for Barns to sing. He repeated the earlier "crazy Chester followed me…" line twice in a row and the band had to take a step back to regroup but kept the beat going as Jeff Austin took another mandolin solo ala Levon Helm.
The whole idea of trying to raise money for an organization like WHY is commendable on its own. Taking the time to set up a benefit concert is no easy feat but these guys pulled it off once again. With a little help from their friends, moe. put on a terrific show and helped raise funds for a charitable organization.
More about WHY: World Hunger Year describes itself as "a leading advocate for innovative, community-based solutions to hunger and poverty." The organization states "Why Hunger challenges society to confront these problems by advancing models that create self-reliance, economic justice, and equal access to nutritious and affordable food." Donations can be made at their Web site (www.whyhunger.org).