Country Joe Band, 2004: "Uncle Sam Needs Your Help Again"
Taking the stage at a community centre in the small Northern California town of Bolinas, a group of four musicians quickly showed themselves to be returning as a vibrant creative force centred very much in the present.
Not that the music of Country Joe and the Fish ever really disappeared. Since the release of the band's first two albums in 1967 -- "Electric Music for the Mind and Body" along with "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die" -- many of its songs have meandered through the memories and semi-consciousness of millions of Americans who came of age a third of a century ago.
Now reconstituted with four of the legendary group's original five members, the new Country Joe Band has just begun to tour. When I saw them perform, midway through April, the music was as tightly effusive as ever, with poetic lyrics mostly brought to bear on two perennials: love and death.
Their new song "Cakewalk to Baghdad" is in sync with Country Joe McDonald's compositions that stretch back to the escalating years of the Vietnam War. With the post-"victory" occupation of Iraq in its thirteenth month bringing death to many people including children, his old song "An Untitled Protest" remains unfailingly current.