Freestone Peaches at the Watkins Glen 45th Anniversary Celebration at the Great American Music Hall, by Kate Haley
Freestone Peaches (photo: Kate Haley)

Words by Kate Haley

I missed being part of the world-record show for the number of attendees at the Watkins Glenn jam in 1973, as I was born a few years too late. Luckily, there was a 45th anniversary celebration at the Great American Music Hall last Thursday that satisfied the fans that were there in ’73, as well as those new to the party.

Bay Area musical powerhouses from the Freestone Peaches, with Matt Hartle, Sunshine Garcia Becker, and Henry Kaiser came together to play a tribute show that truly did this historic event justice. From the opening Grateful Dead jam to the Freestone Peaches effortlessly channeling the Allman Brothers, the gig was unstoppable.

Freestone Peaches, the hosts of this event, are made up of veteran blues, rock, country and jazz musicians, united by their energy around creating their brand of the Allman Brothers Jams. Featuring Ned Patchett on lead/slide guitar (Duane Allman), Jeff Faust on bass (Berry Oakley), Michael Berry on lead guitar (Dickey Betts), Mark Corsolini on drums (Butch Trucks), John Hanrahan on drums (Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson), Jefferson Bergey on vocals (Gregg Allman), and Paul Rustigian on B3/keyboards (Gregg Allman), Freestone Peaches was still the talk of the crowd at the following night’s Circles Around the Sun concert in Half Moon Bay.

Becker’s take on “The Weight” during “The Band”‘s set gave me a whole new appreciation for her range — she had passion usually only seen from a lifetime of singing gospel. The “Grateful Dead” set was as close as I’ve heard to the real thing in energy and improv, in all the years I’ve been on the bus. Above all, everyone had a grand time, including the many people who raised their hands when asked whom in the crowd were at the original shows.

While John Kadelicik had a last-minute emergency that kept him from attending, nothing was for want in this show — except for a few more sets and a few more nights; not bad for an intimate Thursday in San Francisco.

Keep an eye out for what Freestone Peaches is up to next.