A Free-Trey in Los Angeles
by Brendan Neagle of 2001 Productions

The Grand Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles became a haven for hipness as 
the Roots, B. B. King and Trey Anastasio teamed up to perform a new original 
blues tune.  The seven musicians grooved through a slow 12 bar blues to the 
delight of the 350 person crowd.  All of the artists brought serious clout 
to the stage as last night’s Grammy winners, the Roots, THE blues legend 
himself, B.B., and God and the Devil rolled into one, Trey.
	The Roots showed up as a band of hip hop thugs: baggy pants, Timberland 
work boots, wool hats pulled down over their eyes, and a human beat-box.  
The drummer had a pick sticking out of his afro.  Represent!!
The focus from the crowd, however, was clearly on the two guitar masters, 
each dressed in a suit and ripping out the blues as we have heard them do so 
well.  The two traded licks back and forth through call and response and 
mimicry.  Trey’s sound was a bit more dirty and distorted while B. B. had a 
bit more reverb and twang to his.  The two were laughing and making faces at 
each other in grand expression to the music.  Both seemed to be enjoying 
themselves to the fullest.  A few times, Trey’s eyes bugged out in awe to 
what B. B. was playing.  Trey seemed to enjoy imitating B. B.’s licks 
sometimes outdoing him while at other times sliding into a funk groove to 
compliment the legend.  Trey showed his nasty snout to B. B. a few times 
with the dirty funk vamps but mostly it was an exercise in smiles and big 
	Each singer took turns working their way through the song’s chorus. “Rock 
me baby,” was the familiar centerpiece lyric.   As Trey sang, he played the 
same line on his guitar, like in Bathtub Gin or Wolfman’s Brother.  His 
parts went: “Rock me baby, rock me all night long. Rock me baby, like my 
back aint got no bones.” and “Rock me baby, roll me like a wagon wheel.  
Rock me baby, you don’t know how good you make me feel.” B.B. echoed each 
time with “Rock me baby, rock me slow.”
The performance was recorded for an IMAX film.  Earlier in the day, P-Funk 
and Mary J. Blige had performed and the following day, Rob Thomas was to 
take the stage with Santana to do the same.  There were IMAX cameras and 
camera crews all over the stage.  In order to get all the takes right, we 
heard them perform the song three times, plus we heard two impromptu blues 
jams.  These evoked cheers of  “Cheesecake” from the crowd. Trey pumped his 
fist in approval.
	I saw Trey play with Son Seals and Sugar Blue last year. I think Trey’s 
blues playing is really heightened when he is up on stage with true 
bluesmen.  Tonight was no exception, his playing was inspired, and from the 
soul, much better, in my opinion, than Phish blues.  When all the takes were 
over, they called Trey out for a solo performance of the song to film 
close-up shots of his ten-digit-dance over the fret board.  The crowd went 
wild for this and they filmed close-ups of us too.  At the end of the night, 
Trey enlightened us with one comment about the summer. When an intelligent 
fan asked,  “Are you going to play out here this summer?”  Trey replied, “I 
don’t know.”

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