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Peter Green and the Splinter Group
w/Tim Sparks
@ The Cabooze, September 1, 1998
by Ray Stiles

Tim Sparks
Photo © 1998 by Ray Stiles. All rights reserved
Tim Sparks opened the show solo on acoustic guitar playing a variety of classical, blues and world music. His intricate finger picking style creates a sound that is fascinating to watch and listen to. Unfortunately the Cabooze is not the best venue for this type of music. There have been a few other opening acts I have seen there that were also totally out of place, Corey Harris comes to mind when he opened for Buddy Guy. There is just too much noise and other distractions in the place for this kind of solo performance.

At the end of his set, Sparks played an unusual song described as a combination Baroque-Spanish-blues. I think he called it "Bach a LaVa?" Or something like that. He finished with a song called "Last Train to 2001," which he said came about from a trip he took in Germany. While waiting on a train platform in a small German town he had eaten what he thought were "spice cakes" but in reality (or should I say lack of reality) turned out to be "space cakes" and was in an altered state while sitting out on the platform waiting for the train. Somewhere out of his vision he heard this German street singer, playing guitar. The melody stuck in his mind and he later combined that melody with some traditional blues to produce a very unique sound for this song.

Peter Green
Photo © 1998 by Tom Asp. All rights reserved
Peter Greenbaum, known to millions of Fleetwood Mac fans as Peter Green, is on a long road back to recovery. It has been a tumultuous journey back from the inner demons that destroyed his early success and nearly destroyed his life. Luckily some friends found Peter a number of years ago (unable to even care for himself) and have been helping him get back on his feet both health-wise and musically. After his early years of phenomenal success Green suffered a series of mental breakdowns that saw him in and out of psychiatric hospitals for a number of years. When released, he lived alone, unable to look after himself appearing to be a vagrant to many who saw him. Nigel Watson, a builder by trade, and a guitarist by nature gradually coaxed Peter back into the idea of playing guitar again. Peter found he enjoyed playing again, and was persuaded to try putting a few of his old demos behind him. Old friends like bassist Neil Murray and drummer Cozy Powell were delighted to help out, and veteran keyboard player Spike came on board to help round out the sound. At last, after 25 years away, Peter Green was playing guitar onstage again.

Be forewarned however. His playing is no where near the intensity it was 30 years ago but he is at least making a come back and is not taking anything for granted. If you are going to see Peter Green and expecting to hear the same seminal guitar sounds from his Fleetwood Mac years you may be disappointed. Keep your expectations realistic and just enjoy the man and the show.

Peter Green
Photo © 1998 by Tom Asp.
All rights reserved
After a long 45 minute wait between sets Green took the stage with his band the Splinter Group. That long time delay between opening acts and the headliner is always a puzzle for me. Especially when the stage is all set up to go about 10 or 15 minutes after the opening act has cleared out (in this case it was just a stool and mike from Sparks solo set).

The show started out a little weird, at least for the first half. Nigel Watson, the guitar player with the Splinter Group, played most of the leads and Green took a subdued, back seat for the first 45 minuets or so. His playing was tentative and he performed a back up player's role. Nigel was very good on guitar but just about everyone in the packed house, including me, was looking forward to hearing Green not some unknown guitar player from London. Even during the short, two-song acoustic part of the set all Green did was play a lame harmonica to Nigel Watson's Robert Johnson songs. Green's voice was also quite weak and very hard to hear over the band.

During the last half of the show, however, a gradual change seemed to unfold before our eyes. Green began to come alive and really started playing some brilliant guitar solos. He gradually began gaining confidence, taking more command of his performance and leaving the large crowed pretty excited at what they were finally getting to see. There were some breathtaking solos during the last 30 minutes of the show that gave us glimpses of his brilliant past and hopes for a brighter future.

The entire show lasted about 75 minutes with two long encores with Green and band playing a number of familiar songs including "Black Magic Woman," "Albatross," "Supernatural" and "Green Manalishi," as well as some classic covers like "Dark End of the Street," "The Stumble," and "Going Down." So when you see Peter Green again, keep your expectations realistic but be prepared for some breathtaking surprises and remember the name of his opening song of the night "It takes time."

As a postscript, in early 1998, Peter was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, leaving many people stunned when, out of the blue, Peter appeared on stage with Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Christine McVie, Stevie Nicks, and Lindsey Buckingham. To open the show, Peter and fellow inductee Carlos Santana jammed on "Black Magic Woman," a tune which had never been a hit for Peter, but certainly was for Carlos.

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Copyright 1998 by Ray M. Stiles. All rights reserved.