12/30/07 (1:30AM) P.B.S. Porter, Batiste, and Stoltz – Gramercy Theater

I hauled ass to get back to Manhattan, knowing that it wouldn’t be easy to score a ticket to the sold-out gig for George Porter’s seemingly endless 60th birthday celebration. I think George has been celebrating his birthday in New York and New Orleans for three weeks running, but as long as the funk master keeps playing, I’m not complaining. There were about 10 people in front of the theater trying to nab a ticket, and I noticed that this short scalper who always wears a baseball cap at the Beacon was also there looking for tickets and making the competition even more intense. I hate scalpers, but I’m not stupid, and I watched what this guy was doing, as he ran back-and-forth across the street to catch every arriving cab. Everyone else was standing on the north side of the street, but I knew that more cabs were likely to arrive from the Beacon on the south side, so I stood over there and was determined to beat the scalper at his own game. Several minutes passed with no luck, and then Curtis, Rama, and Eddie stumbled out of a cab. As I was talking with them about needing a ticket, one of their friends was standing right next to me, and quietly sold his ticket to the scalper. I was livid. This was the same guy who went on a populist rant on the previous evening about how the Beacon should not be allowed to sell water bottles without their caps, and here he was supporting a leach in the marketplace. He claimed ignorance, but honestly, everyone in New York knows who the scalpers are, and it really takes next to no effort to find a ticket buyer who actually wants to see the show.

Royally pissed, I stormed up and down 23rd St., and ten minutes later, I found my ticket.

I used to run the box office at the Gramercy when it was MoMA’s movie theater and later an Off-Broadway house. The new management has really revitalized the space, tearing the seats out of the floor, putting some nice bars downstairs, and installing excellent sound equipment. If Terminal 5 is the worst venue in New York, the Gram just might be the best, although the drinks are a small fortune and the bar situation is rough upstairs, but hey, that’s life in New York.

P.B.S. was a blast. It was definitely crowded on the floor, but the grooves were being laid down in a nasty way. Once again, this was a band I hadn’t seen in a couple of years, having been unimpressed with their initial efforts when Art Neville was unable to tour with The Meters. Now they’re a tight unit, and I loved their Tenacious D-like self-referential songs, such as “Bring The Flood,” which cast themselves as funk superheroes.

Photo courtesy of Mule.net

Photo courtesy of Mule.net

The second set was when things got really nutty, as Warren Haynes and Danny Louis sat in for a dirty “Honkytonk Women.” Well, actually, that was only the beginning of the madness, as George let Andy Hess take over the bass and decided to man the second drum kit. Then Warren and George traded as Warren gave George his guitar and took George’s place behind the kit for a ripping “Cissy Strut.” And if this wasn’t crazy enough, Karl Denson, John Gros, Eric Krasno, and the Easy Dub All-stars’ horns all sat in. Eventually, Karl even made his way behind the ubiquitous second drum kit. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would ever see Karl Denson, George Porter, or Warren Haynes play the drums, let alone all three on the same night. Out of the three, Denson did a pretty good job holding his own, Porter wasn’t bad, and Warren did manage to keep the beat, even finding a way to get a nice little breakdown in there.

Photo courtesy of Mule.net

Photo courtesy of Mule.net

This show seemed to be the perfect bookend to The Word gig from Thursday. Once again, here was a band opening stuff up and jamming like crazy. It was another throwback to a different era, a time when late night jams and bizarre instrumental switches were commonplace in the city that supposedly never sleeps.

The gig ended at 4:30, but I was not ready to retire.

A friend invited me to his apartment for what is fast becoming his legendary late-night danceparty. I obliged and got down in a major way. Having been fueled by whiskey for several hours now, I switched over to water around 7AM, stating that I had to leave soon because I had to be at Shorty’s for my DJ gig at noon. Seeing as how our host lived exactly one block from Shorty’s, he successfully convinced me to just stay up all night and then walk over at noon. “Why not?” I thought. I may not be young, but at least I can act like I am. Sure enough, I stayed up, DJ-ed the football games, and then went home to crash hard at 9PM. I needed plenty of sleep to get ready for the inevitable New Year’s Eve blowout.

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