The historic New Year’s Eve event on the glorious North Shore of Kauai was a dream come true for us all. After a last-minute venue change, the event of a lifetime for hundreds of grateful people was hosted at the beautiful Prince Course.
Deadheads from Kauai and around the world donned their finest tie-dye and festival wear and rang in the new year of 2019 with The Big Swell, featuring Bob Weir, Billy Kreutzmann, George Porter Jr., Steve Kimock, Jeff Chimenti, Don Was, Robin Sylvester, & Wally Ingram. Also on the bill: The Dirty Knobs with Mike Campbell, Island Grass, and the venerable Taj Majal.
The magically abundant evening began with Kauai’s own Island Grass, who parted the clouds with their beautiful originals and brought the sunshine aloha! Singing in sweet harmony, the crowd was dancing and grinning ear to ear as Island Grass tore up the stage some of Kauai’s favorite musicians.
Next on the stage was the Dirty Knobs featuring award-winning Mike Campbell who has played with Tom Petty and Fleetwood Mac. Their strong song sounds echoed through the valley while the pouring rain drenched the dancers with liquid aloha.
Legendary “Uncle” Taj Mahal graced the stage solo with his unique soulful sound, twangy guitar, and purred to the audience between songs with his deep sultry voice. One of his songs “Going Fishing” was cherished by all who witnessed because fishing is a beloved way of life here in the islands of aloha. “Uncle looks like he from da West Side!” -overheard from a Kanaka Ma`oli (Hawaiian Phil)
All the beautiful faces smiled, hugged, and wished each other happy new year: island style... with epic music and dancing, the way things are meant to be!
Suddenly the skies cleared... and the Big Swell took the stage with original Grateful Dead band members Bob Weir on vocals and guitar with Kauai resident Billy Kruetzmann on drums.
Beginning the set with Sugar Magnolia and then rolling into Cassidy, Franklin’s Tower, and Tennessee Jed where everyone was singing their heart out to Deep Elem Blues, featured with Don Was and Taj Mahal (including this writer).
“The greatest present I could ask for: laying back on the grass... looking at the stars, listening to the Dead, live. What could be a better way to celebrate the New Year, here in our own back yard?!” -the general consensus of all the Kauai Grateful ‘Ohana.
After set break, everyone ready for the next level, they begin with Help on the Way and Scarlet Begonias.
"Fire On The Bayou" flowed into Sugaree into Iko Iko! The crowd went wild.
Estimated Profit’s lyrics became a self-fulfilling prophecy when we sang “Rainbows and down that highway where ocean breezes blow...”. Kaua’i: the land of rainbows and ocean breezes.
Eyes of the World brought tears to everyone’s eyes as we felt that we were beaming out the love felt at the show to all the world! Such a profound experience. A tidal wave around the earth of Grateful Aloha!
The night ended with Touch of Grey... and a bit of melancholy for we all knew that every silver lining has a touch of grey... and the night had to end and so did 2018.
“3.... 2.... 1.... Happy New Year!” Bubbles danced on the heads of the Heads, and big hugs flowed freely through the joyful crowd.
And of course, a personal prayer answered, they did a “hana hou” (encore) with Kauai’s favorite New Year’ song, “Ripple.”
A most Grateful New Year’s Eve that will be cherished for generations to come!
“If I knew the way... I would take you home!”
Hau `oli Makahiki Hou! Happy New Year family!
May all your wildest music dreams come true in 2019!