Jerry’s Middle Finger made their grand return to Southern California on Sunday night, packing San Diego’s Belly Up Tavern with a sold-out show. Two very special instruments graced the stage with the Los Angeles-based sextet: Phil Lesh’s legendary bass used with the Grateful Dead from 1974 to 1979 known as “Mission Control” and master Jerry Garcia guitar luthier Doug Irwin’s newest creation “Wine Country.”
JMF lead guitarist Garrett Deloian immediately put every ticketholder on the dancefloor from the first note of the opener “Rhapsody In Red” as he ripped Irwin’s grapevine-inlaid masterpiece that includes the original pickup from Garcia’s “Tiger” guitar.
As the band segued into their first-ever rendition of Grateful Dead classic “The Other One,” JMF bassist Burt Lewis plucked Lesh’s recently-resurfaced vintage bass, mimicking Lesh’s signature intro bass lines.
Fans in attendance were treated to a blazing first set touching every corner of the JGB songbook—including “Catfish John,” “How Sweet it Is,” “Señor,” “Tore Up,” “Waiting On A Miracle” and Garcia classic “They Love Each Other.”
Set two opened with “Finders Keepers” and “Cats Under the Stars,” as hundreds of “Fingerheads” and Garcia disciples young and old danced together as one. As the set progressed into “Don’t Let Go,” “Roadrunner,” “Love in the Afternoon” and “Dear Prudence,” Deloian’s magical Irwin-built solos inspired countless uproars while JMF founder and drummer Rodney Newman held down the kit.
The band encored with “Brothers and Sisters” as rain began to fall outside the club, a beautiful metaphor of the rebirth for live music — and Irwin — in SoCal.