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The Mickey Hart Band brings drums, grooves, and jams to the Cat's Cradle in Carrboro
By: PJ Richardson
Photography by Gabriel Nelson


The Mickey Hart Band played The Cat’s Cradle Wednesday April 17th. I had never seen The Mickey Hart Band live before and was pondering what might be in store for the show. What pieces of his musical influences would he showcase tonight? I am a big fan of Mickey Hart’s world percussion and his folk music ventures including recordings such as “Planet Drum”. I am familiar with the Grateful Dead influence from his many years as half of the Rhythm Devils with Bill Kreutzmann. How would these be included with The Mickey Hart Band’s own material for a live performance?

The band started with a much extended version of Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away”. There was a rhythmic, building, intro of primarily hand drums, talking drum, and an airy electronic synth sound. The crowd started dancing before the band made it to the first verse. The song continued with added guitar solos, extended jams, and a wide assortment of percussion.



Throughout the show it was always tough to distinguish all of the different percussion instruments being played. I loved it! This was no fault of the sound quality (which was quite good), but rather a benefit of having such a wide range of unique percussion instruments at your disposal. Mickey Hart has been introducing people to new drums and percussion for decades. During the show there were always many subtle new sounds being introduced and weaved throughout the musical space. Many of these came from drums or percussion, but also a version of a Theremin (an electronic instrument producing sounds based upon movements between antennas), vocals, and even trombone.

After a few more spacey jams they played a couple from their new release “Mysterium Tremendum”. First was “Djinn Djinn” with the crowd singing along to the line “The Whole World Dances, and the Desert Cries”. Then 2 songs later was “Slow Joe Rain”.

The Band filled the Cats Cradle Stage with their many instruments and musicians. The solid, groovy, bass was provided by Dave Schools, also of “Widespread Panic”. You would expect a great bassist for such a rhythmic band and he is a perfect match. Ian “Inkx” Herman Played a red white and green striped drum set, and shared the stage with talking drum master Sikiru Adepoju. Mickey Hart played a kit made of a plethora of hand drums, percussion and a Theremin.

The melodic, yet powerful vocals of Crystal Monee Hall, paired with the more raw voice of Tim Hockenberry, and talents of Gawain Mathews (guitar) and Ben Yonas (keyboards, synth) produced the melodic counterpart to the rhythm section.

At least three Grateful Dead songs were performed including “Scarlet Begonias”, “Fire on the Mountain” and “Bertha”. The richness of the percussion and Crystal’s voice, coupled with the incredible bass and smoking guitar solo’s, made me enjoy The Mickey Hart Band’s renditions’ as well as any I’d heard before.

There were many percussion features, breaks, and extended jams with other instruments. Mickey performed a song featuring the Theremin and including spoken word style lyrics. The show wrapped up with the Robert Hunter written “Cut the Deck”.

The Mickey Hart Band’s performance was an eloquent blend of many styles of music. Mixtures of world percussion, folk, syth, ambient, jam band, and more, created a very refreshing but familiar sound. The crowd was also a similar mix, containing both young and older, drummers, jam band fans, and just people who like a good show. Anyone who doesn’t mind a good time and a bit of patchouli would have a ball seeing The Mickey Hart Band. I know I and all the new friends I met had a great time.


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