Joni Bottari and Spiral Light at Florida’s Grateful Gathering
We are busy finishing up our review of Florida’s Grateful Gathering, which spread the vibes all over Lakeland November 17-20. However, we want to report on the two sets featuring Joni Bottari, because her other band, Brown Eyed Women, begin their four-night Florida run Thursday, December 1, at Underbelly in Jacksonville, then Tuffy’s Music Box & Lounge in Sanford, Terra Fermata in Stuart, and Crazy Uncle Mike’s in Boca Raton.
Brown Eyed Women are: Joni Bottari, lead guitar; Dana Carroll, bass; Caroline Killoh, keyboards, vocals; Katie Moore, guitar, vocals; Denise Parent, drums, lead vocals; and Jill Simmons, lead vocals.
Archivists Volke Mon and Peace Patti made an incredible effort to record ever set all weekend. We are happy to include Bottari’s two sets here on video! The outstanding photographs are courtesy of Mitch Levine!
Joni Bottari & Friends
The Saturday schedule (November 19) for Florida’s Grateful Gathering listed Joni Bottari & Friends at 2 p.m. Unfortunately, we didn’t arrive until 3 p.m. Fortunately, the schedule was backed up an hour, and Bottari and Friends were about to take the stage!
Bottari would later confide that she didn’t know anybody on stage with her when they began. During the set, she announced, “I didn’t have any friends; now I have LOTS of friends!”
The set began with two members of Dead Set Florida, who helped anchor the entire weekend, most specially Christian Walker, the festival organizer, on bass and vocals. Mike Pandiscio was on guitar. Nick Landess of Spiral light was on keyboards and vocals. Pandiscio would assume the role of Bob Weir, rhythm guitarist. Drummer Cotter Ellis was part of the Scott Guberman-Zach Nugent conglomeration, playing three sets in three days using a different band name each day.
It took about ten seconds into “Bertha” to appreciate just how great a guitarist Bottari is. The band overcame a brief audio issue during “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo” which did not detract from her fine solo. Landess had been taking the lead vocal, but Walker stepped up for “Me and My Uncle,” a great read on the John Phillips song. Landess was superb on keyboards, and Walker is a monster on bass.
Walker handed the bass to Josh Weinstein, the fourth member of the revolving crew with Guberman, Nugent, and Ellis. Landess sang “Dear Prudence” before a rollicking version of “Hey Pocky A-Way,” The Meters’ classic. Jeremy Zorn took the bass and sang “Feel Like a Stranger.” Bottari had told her new friends they should expect to sandwich “Eleanor Rigby” in the middle, a perfect suggestion, and they finished with the coda to “Feel Like a Stranger.”
[JONI BOTTARI: Bertha, Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo, Me and My Uncle, Dear Prudence, Hey Pocky A-Way, Feel Like a Stranger > Eleanor Rigby > Feel Like a Stranger coda]
Because I had not done my homework, I didn’t realize that Bottari would be back for another whole set with her band Spiral Light after Dead Set Florida knocked out a great hour of music. W00T!
Spiral Light make their home on Florida’s east coast, with Bottari on lead guitar; Nick Landess on keyboards and vocals; Scott Costa on drums; and the indomitable Christian Walker sitting in on bass and vocals! John Hanrahan also sat in on drums.
They opened with a dreamy “Eyes of the World,” Bottari and Landess in perfect sync. They kept it low-key through “Like a Bird.” (I would love to hear that paired up with “Cold Rain and Snow.”) Next up was a tune I didn’t not know, “My Brother Esau,” with the riveting lyrics wrapped around “Shadowboxing the apocalypse.”
They launched into the slowest and funkiest “Shakedown Street” imaginable, which picked up tempo as it rolled down the tracks. Bottari blew out a brilliant wah-wah guitar solo before the song morphed into “Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2,” everybody digging deep.
It took them playing “Terrapin Station” for me to remember where the band gets its name:
Counting stars by candlelight
All are dim but one is bright
The spiral light of Venus
Rising first and shining best
On, from the northwest corner
Of a brand new crescent moon
While crickets and cicadas sing
A rare and different tune
“China Cat Sunflower” blossomed before the band explored around the segue to come into… “Mountain Jam”! After a brief exploration there, the band twisted the jam into… “I Know You Rider”! Landess was brilliant on piano here. Finally, they shut down the set with a nice take on “Stella Blue.”
Two hours of Joni Bottari FTW!
[SPIRAL LIGHT 11.19.22: Eyes of the World, Like a Bird, My Brother Esau, Shakedown Street > Another Brick in the Wall Part 2, Terrapin Station, China Cat Sunflower > Mountain Jam > I Know You Rider, Stella Blue]
BROWN EYED WOMEN
12/01 Underbelly | Jacksonville FL
12/02 Tuffy’s Music Box & Lounge | Sanford FL
12/03 Terra Fermata | Stuart FL
12/04 Crazy Uncle Mike’s | Boca Raton FL