Soul Stew Revival

“We’re at the brewery and they’re out of cans?!”

The woman behind me was incredulous. But it was a good problem to have. The first of the High Falls Brewery Jams welcomed an overflow crowd on Friday, as Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks kicked off the new summer concert series.

The beer and food lines were both pretty long. Consequently, the bathroom line was very long. High Falls Brewing President Norm Snyder acknowledged the logistical issues and promised, “We’re gonna work it out.” No one seemed too worried though. After all it was a beautiful day, if a bit sticky. The stage was nestled in between the big beer vats at the brewery, looking out towards the gorge and the setting sun. About a dozen young women roamed through the crowd decked out in black and yellow - antennae, striped tops, tutus and stockings - promoting the Honey Brown Lager, which “puts the bee in beer.”

After the opening act there was a long, long wait followed by a long, long spiel from someone at 95.1 hyping the coming of Brother Wease on their station. Then, finally, the Soul Stew Revival took the stage. I was probably the equivalent of 10 rows back and we were packed like sardines…if you can imagine sardines drinking and whooping a lot. Both Susan and Derek sounded great but as the evening wore on, it seemed they were pulling the same tricks out for each song. Susan kept throwing in that same from-the-gut “Ooohhhh” and Derek built almost every guitar solo up from slow and quiet to blistering. The originals and covers were hit or miss. A faithful rendition of the Derek & the Dominoes tune “Any Day” sounded great. A needlessly souped-up rhythmic “Hey Jude” fell flat.

Maybe part of the problem was comparison. I had fresh memories of seeing the excellent Los Lobos just the night before.

There are two more High Falls Brewery Jams… Dark Star Orchestra on August 3rd and G. Love on August 10th.