Bill Kreutzmann lives in Kauai. He surfs, likes to grow fruit, he snorkels, he gets involved with various ecological groups, and he has a big garage in which he rehearses with any number of people who come through (he's currently working with Papa Mali). Around New Year's, he got together with Panjea's Chris Berry (congas, mbira, vocals), Michael Kang (guitar) and Patrice Blanchard (bass) for a few gigs titled the "Hawaii Blue Moon New Year's Eve Tour." (NYE show here). Panjea styles itself "more than a band," in that they are also "a non-profit organization, aimed at the liberation of the human species." Whatever that may mean metaphysically, musically, they are heavily influenced by african rhythms and percussion instruments. The music is mostly groove-based, with few changes, although Chris Berry's vocals are quite melodic.
The gig on the 1st was on Maui. They did two sets, though it sounded like it wasn't necessarily planned that way (someone came on to say they were coming back for another), and an encore. The sound was pretty polished (there were a few rehearsals at Billy's beforehand), even if there weren't a lot of intricate arrangements. I'm not familiar with any of the original material (catchy, rhythmic stuff), but it was mainly Berry's. One song ("Tamba") had a little introduction: it was co-written with Michael Kang after trip to Africa.
Kreutzmann naturally got a few shoutouts from Berry along the way, and they did three Grateful Dead tunes: Franklin's Tower, Aiko Aiko and Eyes of the World (Bill pointed out that Aiko Aiko was not really theirs). The Kang interpretations were original and interesting, though parts of Eyes were a little fuzzy. Kreutzmann played perfectly well throughout, in that distinctive style of his: he seems to play every drum at the same time, he uses a lot of cymbal, and he holds a very sharp, straight rhythm that almost feels as though he's rushing the beat. He also doesn't get fancy; there was one short solo, and the encore opened with a drum-led jam.
Bill did an interview with the Examiner recently in which he covered a lot of ground; he's got some studio projects coming up, he's thinking about doing a Rhythm Devils tour with Mickey (though he hasn't brought it up with him yet), and he has a gig coming up with BK3, with James Hutcherson replacing Oteil Burbridge. He's also real excited about all the grapefruit he's growing.
Up next, Brent's unreleased album. Finally.