Thousands of Wakarusa festival-goers crowded before the Main Stage early Thursday evening to check out the Weir, Robinson Greene Acoustic Trio's hour-and-a-half set . I'm not sure what the majority of them were expecting, because I didn't have a clue what to expect either. I did notice, though, from the droves of younger folks leaving the set early that it either didn't live up to their expectations or, like me, they found it to be a little too much like a jam session in your uncle's living room rather than a Main Stage Wakarusa headliner performance.
The trio — and it was just the three of them on stools, with their guitars, no backing band — warmed up the crowd by doing, all together, several Grateful Dead songs, including "Going Down the Road Feeling Bad," "Loser," and "New Speedway Boogie" (whose line "I spent a little time on the MOUNTAIN" is always very popular with the Mulberry Mountain music fans, as you can imagine). They also did a charming rendition of Buddy Holly's "Oh Boy" about two songs in that delighted the older set in the crowd but seemed to confuse the younger fans, which I found amusing, falling pretty much right in the middle (I'm old enough to know the song from my childhood but not old enough to remember the title of it.) Then they took turns doing solo performances of some of their favorite songs of their own and favorite covers. It was outstanding musicianship, no doubt.
Now, about their sound as a trio: It seemed somewhat disjointed at first, but got much smoother several songs in. Their vocals are beautiful together, even though really their singing styles are very different. Weir sort of forms the older-voice foundation for the melody notes, Greene the "younger" foundation vocals and Robinson pretty much fills in and finishes off the notes with the vocal acrobatics, you might say. It works wonderfully well, with Weir and Greene starting the words and notes and Robinson practically reading their minds, finishing their syllables and sounds, and adding his own flourishes.
The problem with this set was the tempo simply was lacking for a Main Stage act at Wakarusa, where the audience by this time (8:30-10 p.m.) is ready to get rowdy for the evening; it was far less upbeat than the act prior to it (Railroad Earth) and probably the most mellow set I saw all day on any stage. It just seemed out of place, and I heard a number of folks say as much as I walked around during the show. Still, with these three musical powerhouses only performing together eight times all year in this new venture of theirs — and perhaps no more after this year, that remains to be seen — it was a treat to see and hear them play and sing together.
After all, how often do you get to sit around your uncle's living room with Bob Weir, Chris Robinson and Jackie Greene and listen to them jam and sing their favorite solo songs and trio covers? That's what I thought.
Check out a clip of the trio playing "Oh Boy" after the jump.