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David Fricke’s Year in Rock 2017

Tom Petty’s final tour, Phish’s Bakers Dozen, the rebirth of the Dream Syndicate and other musical highlights from the year that was

David Fricke's Year in Rock 2017

David Fricke looks back on his most memorable shows, albums and music books of 2017.

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic; Al Pereira/Getty Images; Scott Barbour/Getty Images

I always wait to crack open a new calendar, to another January, before I review my year in music – in records, concerts and pivotal events – because the best of it can still happen in the December innings: Steve Miller playing the blues with fire and ardor; the blistering return, after a 30-year sabbatical, of the Dream Syndicate; and Warren Haynes’ moving epitaph, via Pink Floyd, to a rock & roll year laden with loss. This set of reflections is not everything that mattered to me in 2017. But it will give you a good idea of how my year in rock got me through the year in darkness. 

Gov't Mule – "Wish You Were Here," Beacon Theater, New York City, December 30th

Frank Hoensch/Redferns

Gov’t Mule, “Wish You Were Here”

Beacon Theater, New York City, December 30th

This was a hard year in rock & roll passings, and Warren Haynes – the Mule’s singer-guitarist-leader – was painfully close to two of them: the suicide of Allman Brothers drummer Butch Trucks last January and the passing of the Allmans’ founding singer-organist Gregg Allman in May. In a room where he spent so many nights onstage with the Allmans, Haynes acknowledged the missing by coming out of the drum-solo sequence in the second set with a full-blown cover of the Allmans’ instrumental “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” with guitarist Jimmy Vivino. Then, in the encore, Haynes played a brief flourish of Duane Allman’s “Little Martha” before leading the Mule and their audience into a majestic reading of Pink Floyd’s ballad of memorial, “Wish You Were Here.” Near the end, Haynes stepped around his mike to the front of the stage and let everyone else take the final verse, a gesture of sharing with the crowd and a lesson in singing through profound loss. This year will be a hard one too. But we have the songs to move through it.

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