WOW Tales: Cosmic Charlie

Sunday, July 7, 2024

Cosmic Charlie, with guest appearances by the Sugar Beets, Caroline Aiken


Normally the WOW Hall sits dormant during these dog days of summer with excessive heat, largely due to the majority of our staff and patrons fully living it up at the Oregon Country Fair out in Veneta. However, this year schedules, and temperatures, aligned to open our doors for one of our most consistently popular genres — Grateful Dead tribute acts!

Thankfully the WOW Hall invested in a new HVAC system a couple years ago, so while it was still a scorching 98-degrees outside at 8 p.m. when our show began, inside it was comfortably air conditioned. An at-first very small crowd grew rapidly just as Cosmic Charlie took the stage around 8:15 p.m., as many of the Oregon Country Fair folks made it back into town to catch the double-set performance.

A band from Georgia celebrating its 25th anniversary, this show marked the very last performance after a month on the road. The show almost didn’t happen, though, as the band mentioned in-between songs that the ferries in the San Juan Islands weren’t running, leaving them stranded before thankfully hitching a ride on a barge to eventually make it onto the freeway and down to Eugene in time. They also noted how great it was to be back in Eugene — their first show at the WOW Hall in roughly 20 years. While the band MOSTLY plays Grateful Dead songs, and draws the accompanying audience to boot, they did slip in quite a few non-Dead songs into their set, adding a certain soulful and bluesy zeal to the jam rock sound.

Joining them on stage for both sets was Scotty Perey, pianist for Eugene mainstays since 1990 The Sugar Beets. Additionally, for a few songs Sugar Beets member Jeremy Wagner (mandolin) and a violinist also came up on stage. This included a rousing rendition of Johnny Cash’s “Big River” that veered into “When the Saints Go Marching In” for a stretch, after which the band took about a 15-minute break to get some liquids and rest on a very hot and busy day.

When the band returned they brought with them another guest, legendary singer-songwriter Caroline Aiken, who joined the band on stage to sing several songs, ending with a soulful cover of Elmore James’ blues classic “It Hurts Me Too.”

The band continued from there, with Sugar Beets in tow, with a lively crowd enthusiastically dancing along — perhaps aided by the strongly air-conditioned setting. Thankfully we only had one incident I am aware of with someone passing out due to low blood sugar and not heat-related, because even by the time I left the WOW Hall late into the night it was still uncomfortably hot outside.

Thank you to all who joined us at the AIR-CONDITIONED WOW HALL, and be sure to come back on Tuesday for an also AIR-CONDITIONED performance by the California Honeydrops!



WOW Hall Marketing Coordinator


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