Sumtur Amphitheater - Omaha, NE (August 9, 2013)

written by Eric Martin

After a great show in KC we traveled around Kansas City, Missouri, or Kansas… or maybe both, I’m not too sure, in search of the fabled Kansas City burnt ends. Our search for the perfect Midwestern BBQ lead us to a gas station, though the line was literally out the door, down the street, around the corner, and then some. So we continued to follow Chad’s new terr van to Gates BBQ. When we got in line I was immediately overwhelmed; Chad informed me that if I didn’t order fast and loud, there would be consequences. Consequences at a BBQ joint?! I am not a fast or loud person. Luckily enough I knew the drill, was told to order burnt ends and fries, and did just that. It took us long enough to find this place, so after we were all full enough to be ashamed of ourselves, we traveled onward to Omaha, Nebraska. Chad and David in the terr van, Dorothy and Colin, or “Colothy”, went with the Walker brothers, and I with Rick and Mel (yes, the Rick and Mel of Dave-side fame). 

After a short 3 or so hour drive in the amazing, super-agile, super- fast, Chevy Malibu rental car, more affectionately known as the “Chevy Chris C”, or, “Malibooooo”, we had arrived in Omaha. Sumtur Amphitheater is oddly enough located right next to a high school off of some deserted dirt road, across from, believe it or not; corn. Yes folks, corn in Nebraska. Get over it. The Dirty Disalvo gang and I partied in the Chevy Chris C for a minute, and then made our way to the front of the stage. Make no mistakes, it was a HOT day. I was “walking” around, still with my aerodynamic yet extremely hot and sweaty cast on my left leg, and made my way early to the front of the stage, where I would remain for the majority of the evening, more than happy to not gimp around in the heat.

The Devil Makes Three came on and put on a good show (the same one) again. By this night Rick, Mel, and I were taking bets on DM3 openers and closers, and we were all singing the words to the majority of the songs, especially Stormy Walker, he loved these guys. They are great at what they do, but I can only listen to the same jugband songs SO many times over and over again….. And they definitely played the same jugband songs SO many times. Over. And over. Again. But, they are great, if you haven’t listened to them, I highly recommend it. Just not on repeat.

The crowd had filled up notably since DM3, and some girl was nice enough to walk around throwing flowers on the stage. This definitely made the scenery much more pleasant than the concrete slab that had previously been all we had to gawk at. The guys came out in good spirits and good sunglasses, which they definitely needed, cause that sun was briiiiight. And HOT. The show started off hot, too, with an excellent “Shady Grove"> "Wheelhoss"> "Shady Grove” sandwich. What a great/horrible way to start a 203 degree show. If I wasn’t sweating before (which I was), I definitely was after dancing to that number. Even the band had to take a breather after that one, shortly followed by “Criminal”, and “Little Lover”. The next song was one, according to Adam, they “haven’t played in a long time…”

Oddly enough, it was “Long Time”. Not sure if he did that on purpose, because it had been a while since they played this one. Either way, it was good to hear it, even though it was still a thousand degrees outside. “Fastball” came next and quickly lead us into “Steep Grade Sharp Curves”, which lead us into “Southern Flavor”, which nearly lead us to collapse from exhaustively dancing in this heat.

“I’ll sing this next song for Jerry Garcia” Dave said, which received a very affirmative reaction, before singing “It Takes a Lot to Laugh It Takes  a Train to Cry”. Today was August 9th, 18 years after the death of Jerry. (Little did we know the Jerry-related surprise we had coming up.)

It was still bright out, and it was still hot out, and “Hit Parade of Love” was next, and that just seemed to make everything okay. Next was the always dramatic opening notes to “Looking Back Over My Shoulder”. Omaha could have used a “bitter wind” all day, but the sun was finally starting to set, and set one only had one more to go; a great, energetic “Ten” would finish up the first round.

Dave started out set 2 by announcing this was the best time he had ever had in Nebraska. And I would definitely have to agree. Sure it was my first time in Nebraska, but it was also the best time I’d ever had in Nebraska. Yup.

“My Gal” started us off, followed by “Half Moon Rising”. Although the moon hadn’t started rising yet, and I couldn’t tell you if it was a half moon or not, the sun had all but disappeared, the temperature had dropped considerably, and I continued to hobble on one good foot and one boot. Nothing would keep me hobbling like “High Cross Junction”, unless of course “High Cross Junction” went swiftly into “Girlfriend is Better”. Oh yeah. I might never get tired of this one. “Girlfriend” would slowly turn into “Up on The Hill”, which would quickly pick everyone’s feet up. After a short pause and some love for the home crowd, Adam picked it back up with “Pockets”.

The band picked, plucked, and played a couple notes, and before I could even realize what was going on, Jeff counted 1,2,3 and played one of my most favorite riffs ever. A riff so simple, so beautiful, so amazing that it could only be one I’ve heard for years... and it was. Sweet holy shit Yonder was playing “Here Comes Sunshine”! I couldn’t believe it, I was hoping for an awesome Dead cover since it was the day that it was, but this was the last thing I was expecting. I friggin' love this song, and I love Yonder, and they were playing this song, and I was front row and center. Not something I will soon forget (and I forget everything). To make things even better, the song went right into “Finally Saw the Light”. No complaints here. Did I mention that I love Yonder? This was quickly becoming one of those nights I would use as evidence for my reasoning why.

“High on a Hilltop” only continued to make this night one for the books, and a great “Irondale” did its part to cement this night into the records. To make things even better, they played “Crazy”. I haven’t heard this one in a while, and it’s always a good one. A short pause and Ben would take the lead for a crowd pleasing “Traffic Jam”. The song “ended” with a roar from the crowd, which quickly hushed itself to hear the intro to the next song. Good thing we quieted down, otherwise we would have missed out on the bitchin' “Gut Feeling”. Too bad Andrew wasn’t here for this one, since he was singing this song all week on tour, and then decided to skip out on Omaha to get to Red Rocks early. Good call, Andrew, good call. Anyway, an awesome “Gut Feeling” went right back into the last bit of “Traffic Jam” and just like that, it was over.

But the show continued with spontaneous fireworks, and an even more spontaneous rendition of “God Bless America” as the band walked back onstage to the beautiful gun powder explosions of color in the sky, and the chant of “U! S! A!” Full of American pride, the boys belted out “40 Miles” and “Going to the Races”. Damn. Way to solidify this one. A great night with great folks capped off by a great oldie. It never gets old. (Junkyard)

Written by Eric Martin; photos by Eric Martin and Dorothy St.Claire

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