Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Jay Lane is at it again. RatDog’s founding drummer has been game for any number of musical scenarios over the years, even when they seemingly challenged his sensibilities (his initial involvement in RatDog for instance). Lane joined Les Claypool in a protean version of Primus, then in Sausage and also in some of Claypool’s subsequent touring bands. He appeared in the original Charlie Hunter Trio with Dave Ellis, following an extended stint with the big band funk of the Freaky Executives. Lane remains with RatDog but he also has started recording and gigging with a new group, Band Of Brotherz, that harkens back to his work with acid jazz collective Alphabet Soup. The Brotherz have readied a new studio disc that will meld original material with sampled reworkings of Grateful Dead compositions. This recording, Deadbeatz and Murderous Medleys, will be released in the near future but in the interim, Band Of Brotherz has embarked on an East Coast tour with a line-up bolstered by Rob Wasserman and Gabby La La. Prior to the initial tour date, Lane took some time to discuss Band of Brotherz’s origins and explore the source of Deadbeatz.
Let’s start with Band of Brotherz’s pre-history. I know that you and some of the members used to be in Alphabet Soup with [RatDog saxophonist] Kenny Brooks. Can you outline the relationship between the two groups?
In the 80s there was a thriving club scene with a lot of live bands all over the Bay Area. I was in a band called the Freaky Executives. We were an 8 piece funk band not unlike The Time. And we were pretty popular. That’s actually how I met Les Claypool. We rehearsed in the same building he did and then I started playing in Primus before they really did anything and my relationship with Les Claypool is how I eventually met Rob Wasserman and then Bob Weir.
Anyhow, after the 80s, the live music scene kind of dried up and I now realize that the scene goes through these up and downs. I theorize that people get tired of all these original bands and they just want to go dance to some music they know and then the clubs all realize that instead of hiring a whole band they can just hire one guy to spin some records. And it’s almost like all the clubs realize this at the same time. So there was a period of time when there were bands in all the clubs all over the Bay Area and then when the 90s came around, every club was all DJs.
But then what happens is the lack of live music becomes apparent. The early 90s were the years of multi-level clubs, with your techno on one level, your acid lounge on the bottom level and your funk old school 70s on the middle level. There were just different tiers of DJ things. And what happened was Kenny Brooks had a roommate Gary Jones that was a clubgoing guy. He knew a lot of the guys who threw parties at the clubs, the raves and he would get requests for a little jazz trio to play down in the acid lounge or whatever. They wanted a little live music mixed in. So people could hear the thump thump of the techno upstairs or they could come down and mellow out on the couches downstairs and listen to some jazz.
So Kenny called me up which in a way was kind of a mistake because I was kind of anti-jazz. I had already gone through the whole jazz ringer and I appreciate it for what it is but a lot of times there’s like a wall between the audience and the musicians, so that the music is only there to listen to.
You say you’ve been though the jazz ringer. Can you a talk a bit about your education and development in that realm?
I was exceptionally lucky that when I went to public school in the 7th grade here in San Francisco, our band teacher was a jazz saxophone player that turned me on to Weather Report. This was 1978 right around the time that this was exciting music. It was the first time that jazz musicians were using electric instruments and the jazz rock idiom was vibrant and alive. It was incredibly alluring for me being a young musician, so I instantly glommed onto it. I couldn’t play that good but I listened to it all the time. So as I got better on the drums that influence came out.
I have an old friendship with Dave Ellis the sax player who used be in RatDog and Charlie Hunter Trio. When I was sixteen, Dave took me over to Charlie’s house, who was his neighbor right around the corner. Dave and I knew Charlie for years and when Charlie got back from Europe we started up a little jazz trio.
That was before I was really paying attention to what regular people listen to when they hear music. It was kind of eye-opening. And then the Prince thing got big in the early 80s, so I got really Princed-out, George Clintoned out and I went from jazz to funk. So basically when we get into the 90s I’m all the way hip hop. Here’s hip hop fresh and new and I’m ready for it.
Anyhow, I started playing with Charlie Hunter but all I wanted to do was make people dance which is why on the first couple Charlie Hunter albums I’m playing funk beats and stuff. Although it’s very jazzy and in the jazz idiom, funk stuff was coming through. And the band I was in all through the 80s, Freaky Executives, that was straight funk.
So funk and jazz was my thing and as you noticed no where in there have I mentioned the Grateful Dead. I have a buddy named Tom Pope who is a drummer in the New York area who has sat in with RatDog a couple times that I met at the same music camp I met Dave Ellis: Cazadero Music Camp. He turned me on to the Grateful Dead although I never really gravitated to the Grateful Dead.
Did you ever see a Grateful Dead show?
After I got the gig with Bob, they were playing the Oakland Coliseum, I guess it was their last tour. So I got a ticket and I went with a buddy of mine, this hippie dude, and we ended up in the lot, we never made it to the concert. So I never saw the Dead.
There was quote on RatDog site where you describe the original trio with yourself, Bob Weir and Rob Wasserman as “the birth of something brand new no one had heard before." Can you talk a bit more about that?
Bottom line I had no idea how to play like that. I met Bob when Rob brought me in to work on a project they were working on and it was almost like, “Hey this kid doesn’t even know or care about who I am. I kind of like that.” I was coming from jazz and funk, everything super up tempo. I had never played any slow, down tempo music. Of course it’s all relative. Now I’ll listen to tapes from the 80s and I’m like, “That shit is racing.” Now seemed what seemed slow then seems normal to me now but I never played anything at those tempos with those kind of grooves.
I had never listened to that kind of music and to be perfectly honest, I was lost. I didn’t not know how to do it but just the fact that Bob wanted to play with me was enough for me to want to play with him. And I think our friendship is what brought our music together. He and I were almost night and day musically but something that we connected with eventually brought it in. I can only say it sounded like something that had never been done before because Bob was going completely out of his element to get someone who had never heard his repertoire before. I’m not sure if too many dudes with his level of accomplishment would actually do that and then bring the person out there on a tour in front of everybody who’s expecting to hear the Dead.
How long was it until you were comfortable?
It was about 5 or 6 years because honestly it wasn’t until I started sitting down listening to the Grateful Dead all the time and enjoying it, instead of studying up on tunes. Now I’m always kicking back and throwing on the Dead and when I started doing that, all of a sudden the music started making sense to me and I could play it. It’s kind of like what comes in goes out and if it ain't going in, it ain't going out.
Back in 2002, Wasserman left the band. Can you talk a bit about that decision and how it impacted on your role?
That was completely heartbreaking after Bob and Rob had played together for so long. Rob is a master bass player but he’s never really been an ensemble player. So I think we all had to come to terms with that. And at the end of the day, RatDog had evolved from 2 dudes and 3 dudes into 6 dudes, so we all had to decide what was best. It was hard but believe me, I am so glad I’m playing with Rob right now because he’s such a tremendous player and I’ve got him recorded on some of this Band of Brotherz stuff, so I have him on the album.
Which leads us back to Band of Brotherz. I apologize for derailing you while you were still outlining how Band of Brotherz came together.
So I started doing these little gigs with Kenny Brooks and the jazz part was cool but I was always leaning to, “Let’s gets these folks dancing.” I didn’t want to have them sitting down listening to me with that separation between audience and band. That’s kind of what the Grateful Dead paved the way for. So I wanted to do that even in situations where it wasn’t called for.
So here we were this little jazz trio and I’m playing the drums as loud as I can competing with the dance music pounding on the ceiling and trying to get the kids up and dancing. Well after a while, a couple of rappers came around. Kenny had a friend who was rapper and he brought a friend who was rapper and we had this little a stable of rappers who would hang out come up and rap. There was this one guy, Zach, who always blew my mind. Every time he got up there the drumming was butter when this guy was rapping and he was singing too. He kind of sounded like David Hinds, the lead singer from Steel Pulse but he was a freestyler.
The group Alphabet Soup never rehearsed, it was a freestyle thing. It was genuine jazz guys and a genuine hip hop thing happening too. This was at a time when hip hop and jazz was happening and new, which it is isn’t anymore, so it was exciting. But for whatever reason this one vocalist didn’t remain in the band and it kind of turned into the jazz guys calling the shots too much. And I kind of fell out of the band too because I was playing with Charlie Hunter, RatDog, Sausage with Les Claypool and I had to pick and choose.
Anyhow, fast-forward to a few years ago, Zach came to my house one night with these songs that he did on his computer and I was blown away. I was like, “Oh man, I want to be in this band.” We got to talking and he had the concept for Band of Brotherz. And rather than calling it Alphabet Soup 10 or 15 years later, Band of Brotherz seemed to fit. The jazz and hip hop thing has already been done and especially since 9/11 people are more world conscious. It’s much more about a world music vibe now than it was then and this had a real world awareness.
So he sent me these songs with the other Alphabet Soup rapper. The two of them have a really good contrast with their styles. Zach produced these songs and we started transferring the files from his computer to my computer and started replacing electronic drums with real drums and asking friends of mine to add tracks. I had Sikiru Adepoju lay some tracks, Gabby La La play some tracks, Rob Wasserman play some tracks and then we produced the thing up to have it sound like it came out of one studio.
During that process Zach came to a RatDog show and was hanging out backstage with Bob Weir and Bob was saying, “I’d really like to get into this sampling and looping.” So Zach made this loop of “Franklin’s Tower” and he wrote this song to it, “The River Song.”
At the same time another friend of mine suggested that we do a whole album of Dead sampled tunes. I thought that people might say that’s kind of gimmicky and this friend said, “You’ve already got a killer band with original tunes.” So we started to do more tunes and call it Deadbeatz. It was kind of frustrating because we were just about ready to come out with our album and then we were almost starting all over again.
Other than “Franklin’s Tower,” can you describe some of the songs you’ve sampled and what’s come out of them?
We did this one “Box of Sunshine,” which is a “Row Jimmy” sample. At the beginning of “Row Jimmy” there’s those four chords and I took two of them and put them at the end of the eight bar loop. So you’re kind of going, “Whoa that’s ‘Row Jimmy’ but it’s kind of different and my buddy Zach put all new vocals over it.
We did one of “Golden Road” where we’re pretty much singing the same hook they sang. It’s early Dead and so we put a half-time beat beat and these guys did an early rap to it, like a Run DMC style rap. So it’s early Dead with early rap, which is kind of cool.
So will the album draw exclusively on the material built around those samples?
Well the good thing is we’re sitting on all these Dead-sampled tunes and all these other things too. So while we were getting all the tracks together, we realized there are a couple of the Band of Brotherz original songs that are so good, we probably should throw some of those songs on there as well. That’s why we called it Deadbeatz and Murderous Medleys. And also to let people know we’re not just doing a gimmick thing. We’re trying to show that we had been conceptualizing original music for the last three years before this idea came up.
How familiar is the rest of the band with the Dead?
The guys writing the songs, the lyricists and Zach and myself have been listening a lot. Since we’ve added our bass player and guitar player to the band they’ve been listening a lot. Our guitar player has a very soulful lyrical quality to his playing and I knew that all he had to do was listen to a little bit of Garcia and he would pick up on a really key element of what Jerry was doing and so far he has. He’s a multi-instrumentalist and his grandfather used to play with Fletcher Henderson. When Louis Armstrong played with Fletcher Henderson’s band in New York City before he left to go to St. Louis on his own, my guitar player’s great grandfather, Kaiser Marshall played drums in that band.
Band of Brotherz is about to start an East Coast Tour, with a number of Dead Afterparties. I see that Rob Wasserman and Gabby La La will be joining you but beyond that in terms of instrumentation, what will band consist of and beyond that what can people expect to hear?
There’s bass, guitar, drums, sampler and three vocalists. We're a brand new band and we’ve already got 30 songs of ours that we can play. So we could play 2 ½ gigs without repeating ourselves and that’s pretty good for a new band.
People can expect a little more than just rappers. If people think this is just rapping to a tape they’re wrong. It’s going to be really exciting. We’ve got the hip hop element but for it being a rap hip-hop thing there’s a lot of singing. It’s kind of reggae-ish hip-hop with a world tinge. We have good songs too, that’s the cool thing.
Many great reviews around regarding last night's Dead- Here's my favorite (from Deadnet Central):
evangeline - Apr 26, 2009 8:36 am (#89 Total: 89) Bookmark
Epic. When it was over, we just sat in our seats, speechless, and then, when we recovered, we wondered if there are still tkts available for philly....
Live from the lot
Grateful Chef @ Nassau
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Grateful Dead Ahead of its time
Band served as an early model for branding
Here's part of it:
Here's how the Dead anticipated the future we now live in during its 1965-95 life span:
Free music: The Dead was among the first bands to encourage its fans to tape its concerts and distribute tapes to their fellow Dead-heads worldwide. A specially designated "tapers section" was set up at each show near the sound board, and fans brought increasingly sophisticated gear to document nearly every one of the Dead's 2,000-plus concerts.
Make the product unique: Garcia expressed disdain for the recording studio countless times -- heresy in an era where the studio album became the centerpiece of music culture. Garcia insisted that live performance was the lifeblood of his band's music, and created a template for the jam-band culture. The Dead's studio recordings slowed to a trickle as the decades passed. Instead, the band focused on turning its shows into epic, four-hour must-see events for its followers. The Dead turned touring into an art form, a combination of high-tech ingenuity and grass-roots communication. The shows were infamous for their ups and downs, the possibility that the band could fail, but the sense of improvisation and spontaneity became an increasingly alluring alternative, especially in the highly choreographed MTV era. Fans paid to see multiple shows on the same tour, knowing that each would be one-of-a-kind.
Who needs record companies? Though the Dead worked with major labels throughout its career, the labels had very little to do with the band's inner workings. The Dead's operation was essentially self-contained, a network of friends and associates from the San Francisco area who assumed various jobs within what would become a highly successful corporation, Grateful Dead Productions. The band's mail-order service and later Web site, deadnet.com, became a gathering place for the Dead's worldwide fan base and sustained the band's legacy long after Garcia's death.
Sell direct to fans: The Dead released dozens of recordings from a bottomless stash of archives direct to fans, presaging the marketplace experiments of Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails. The Dead released only 13 studio albums in its 30-year lifetime. That relatively paltry number is dwarfed by dozens of live releases, including 36 volumes of the "Dick's Picks" archival series alone. The series was named after archivist Dick Latvala, who ascended from the ranks of the taper's section in the '70s to become one of the band's most trusted lieutenants. These releases, which were promoted only through the band's mail-order service and (later) Internet site, in many cases exceeded the quality of the band's major-label recordings.
The band as brand: The Dead dealt not just in T-shirts and hats, but in flip-flops and golf gloves. Frisbees, mugs, bar stools and license-plate frames. Key chains, a board game and socks. Magnets, patches and pins. Baby-clothes "onesies," hoodies and a miniature pyramid. The band also spawned a cottage industry of books, DVDs and even a syndicated radio show ("The Grateful Dead Hour"). The Dead became synonymous not just with a style of a music or a certain era, but also with a way of life that transcended generations.
Remix, remake, reinvent: Were the Dead the first modern rock band? Like all artists, the Dead borrowed freely from the music and traditions that preceded them. But a strong case could be made that no band worked with a wider palette or blended the colors more audaciously. By constantly reinventing itself through its music, the band remained relevant across the decades. Under the rubric of "American music," the Dead mixed blues, country, folk, early rock 'n' roll, jazz, experimental and even classical music into a fluid framework built not only on deep knowledge of the past but a mischievous desire to reshape it.
The band improvised its way through thousands of shows, and suggested that songs were not immutable artifacts, but organic entities that could be bent, folded and occasionally mutilated to suit the needs of the moment. In this respect, they anticipated the mix-and-match styles that would surface and flourish in the last few decades, from the cut-and-paste approach of hip-hop and collage artists such as Girl Talk, to the recombinant rock of Beck and the Flaming Lips. John Oswald's 1995 studio manipulation of multiple incarnations of the Dead's epic song "Dark Star" on the album "Grayfolded" is among the first widely recognized mash-ups.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
I've attempted calling in (to be #10) all week. No luck but it was cute when we put the radio on at work to listen for the Dead song (something I never do otherwise)
and after a few moments, my co-teacher Krissy shouted "Quick! Get on the phone! They are playing DEAD!".
I scrambled for the phone - gave it my best shot- but no luck....DARN!
It wasnt til about a 1/2 hour later when I thought to ask Krissy- who only knows a handful of Bobby songs that I have on an "appropriate for preschool" mix cd.-
"How did you know that song was a Grateful Dead song?"
Krissy laughed "Because that was the SAME song you have as a ring tone on your cell phone!"
I love you Krissy!
So this is the new Blog format...Once I knew I could do the changeover without losing my archives or links, I coverted.
I'm still figuring things out but it seems there are some interesting gadgets to add, so let's give it a try!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Whoever is twittering (tweeting?) has also been posting real time setlists all tour- check it out
Some fun info regarding the "Let The Sunshine In" Benefit in today's Leah Garchik column!!!!
Narada Michael Walden, the musician and music producer whose Memorial Day concert at Davies Symphony Hall will benefit his own foundation, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Christopher Rodriguez, the Oakland boy shot while he played the piano, doesn't ask for things by telephone or e-mail.
So he flew to Italy to see Sting in person to persuade him to lead the roster of entertainers, which would eventually include Marilyn McCoo, Billy Davis Jr., Mary Wilson, Earl Klugh, David Grisman, Bobby Weir, just-added Frederica von Stade and several surprises. Sting said yes and Walden flew back, simple as that.
Memorial Day was the only day most performers had free. But because it's a holiday, organizers have to pay union help twice their usual fees. Walden is hoping to sell out Davies, which has 2,800 seats; ticket prices range from $75 to $250, the high ones coming with the chance - think rock-show-like laminated passes at Davies Hall - to hobnob with the stars of the show in the Wattis Room during intermission and afterward.
The first half of the show - which will be a show, and not just a series of separately gigging artists - is black tie, but after intermission, the affair becomes '60s-oriented; think tie-dye and flowers in your hair. If you don't bring a change of clothing, you could at least bring a change of makeup. "I want all the women to feel like it's the Oscars, the Grammys, glamorous," Walden says.
To the guys: "Make sure your shoes are shined. I'll be checking." Michigan-born Walden's a spiritual sort of guy, but he's been a working musician for more than 35 years and his Rolodex bulges with big-time names. But he's never before produced a similar concert here, which has been his dream. Sting's yes was the first tipped domino. "People love Sting, and everything fell into place. You get a cat like that and it's all great."
Just Nine months away- Ratdog daze I was worth every cent!
Grand Lido, Negril Jamaica*
2nd Annual RatDog Daze
January 23 – February 1, 2010 - 2 FULL Weekends of Fun!!
3 Packages Available!!
Package 1 = Jan 23 – Jan 27, 2010
Package 2 = Jan 28 – Feb 1, 2010
Package 3 = Jan 23 – Feb 1, 2010 (all 9-nights!)
EACH Weekend Package Includes:
• Non-Motorized Water Sports
• Transfers to and from Montego Bay Airport
• Scuba Diving
• All beverages (including top shelf liquor)
• Welcome Cocktail Reception
• All Meals
• Various Activities
• Room Service (Suite categories only)
• TWO 2 ½ - 3 hour RatDog Concerts!!
• Two CD's, one from each of the 2 full band concerts (mailed out after the event directly by the band)
Airfare is NOT included. Rates are per person, based on double occupancy.
(Single rate is 200% of the package price)
9-Nights from $3,328 per person
4-Nights from $1,599 per person
For all rate categories, payment plan options, deadline dates, and cancellation penalties.
JAMAICA ENTRY REQUIREMENT: A valid passport IS required to enter Jamaica.
*Resorts name will change to Breezes Grand Negril December 2009.
Visit: https://www.RatDog.org/jamaica/?reserve=y to fill out a secure reservation form
Destination Concerts Web: http://www.destinationconcerts.com/ratdog/
CALL: 888-788-8202 or 610-813-2644
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
July 12, 2009
Highland Bowl Amphitheatre
Ticket presale begins Thursday.....
Monday, April 20, 2009
Mexicali LiveTeaneck, NJ
Mexicali LiveTeaneck, NJ
North StarPhiladelphia, PA
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Not on my computer but, can you see the articlelink?
And look what we have here!
A technorati weir link!
More blogs about bob weir.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Need something to do?
Try this with your Dead tee shirts!
If you can't wait for that - Here's a tutorial on how to create a child's dress using your old tour shirt! http://indietutes.blogspot.com/2007/06/adult-tee-to-childs-dress-recon.html
Nothing like a show- fun read
Are you Grateful for these albums?
and Molly's updated Tour Journal
Meet Ony Bear!
His people have fallen on hard times and knew we would love him as we do our Lilah & Buster!
He's my very own Ratdog.
As you can see, he fits right in!
Not to be outshone, here is Buster being his true cool self! Lilah still too camera shy to join in.
Friday, April 17, 2009
* Out with tulips, in with carrots 04.17.09
* Keeping lid on the dope question 04.16.09
* No holding those babies at Cal 04.15.09
* Sunday in the park with J.C. 04.14.09
More Leah Garchik »
Meanwhile, Dead musicians Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann (plus Jeff Chimenti and Warren Haynes), who were playing in Washington on Tuesday, visited the president in the White House on Monday evening.
"He's a real human being," said Hart on Thursday, "so warm and open and gracious. It's like he just opened the door to his house and said, 'Come on in. This is a good place to talk.' "
Hart brought his wife, Caryl, and 15-year-old daughter, Reya. As they approached the front gate, a stern-faced guard on the other side of the fence said, " 'Mr. Hart? Mickey Hart? I'm sorry, Mr. Hart, it's about your priors. You've got priors.'
" 'Priors? I got a parking ticket 22 years ago. What do you mean, priors? You've got to be kidding.' ... 'Yeah,' said the guard. 'Welcome to the White House.' "
The show was Tuesday, and drummer Tipper Gore sat in on "Sugar Magnolia." "We were playing really beautifully," said Hart, "the band sounding like a million bucks. And Obama is the reason we were together. We got together over the benefits we put on for him. So in a way, he's become part of our destiny now."
I reminded him that Elvis had met with Nixon. "You gotta remember how bad it could be," said Hart. "But this one is how good it could be."
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The Boston Globe
Dead, fans revel in community
The Dead's Phil Lesh says the band draws energy from its devoted fans. The Dead's Phil Lesh says the band draws energy from its devoted fans. (bryan bedder/getty images)
By Joan Anderman
Globe Staff / April 17, 2009
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Jerry is long gone. It's been five years since the band's last tour. All the remaining members have their hands in other musical projects. But for the Dead, it still begins where it always did.
THE DEAD At the Worcester DCU Center tomorrow and Sunday. Tickets are $63.75-$95 at 617-931-2000 or www.ticketmaster.com
"We just finished up two weeks of rehearsals," says bassist Phil Lesh, "and on the last day we played for 90 minutes straight, and it was intense, thick, all kinds of events happening. In the middle of that we played three songs, but the idea was to start right out looking for the magic. From bar one, we were picking up the music out of nothing."
Forty-four years after the Grateful Dead formed, original members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, and Lesh, who have performed as the Dead since Jerry Garcia died in 1995, are still - wait for it - truckin'. It's an apt pun, considering that the 2009 tour (which stops at Worcester's DCU Center tomorrow and Sunday) is devoted largely to the Grateful Dead classics, and that the band, fleshed out to a six-piece with the addition of Allman Brothers/Gov't Mule guitarist Warren Haynes and Ratdog keyboardist Jeff Chimenti, has been holed up in a studio working up a mind-boggling 160 songs.
To the uninitiated, such an undertaking seems like cosmic overkill. For Deadheads, it sounds like a few killer set lists. As far as Lesh is concerned, it's church.
"We don't think of ourselves as religious people or gurus, but church is a place where people go to find something larger than themselves, and to that end we made a decision never to play the same set," Lesh says.
Lesh won't extend the comparison, but the Dead and the church have quite a few things in common, like throngs of devotees who make regular pilgrimages to worship at the altar, events that most describe as religious, and the power to generate among its followers an extraordinary sense of kinship. That, more than any trippy solo, is what accounts for the Dead's longevity, says Rob Weir, a history professor at UMass-Amherst who shares a name but no blood with the band's guitarist.
"I don't think it's radical to say that they weren't the greatest band in rock, but there's a whole culture that goes with the Grateful Dead and it keeps being renewed," says Weir, who teaches a course called "How Does the Song Go? The Grateful Dead as a Window Into American Culture." "Americans are longing for community, studies tell us, and Deadheads really are a community."
What feeds the fans sustains the band, as well. "A basic level of love and trust that's absolutely unchanging" is how Lesh describes the Dead's musical chemistry, although he says that the members are so divided when it comes to business matters they won't attend meetings together, for fear of total system failure. So the Dead farms out the pesky parts to a team of handlers and hones in on the happy bits - what Lesh likes to call the stream.
"It's out there, and when we're really on and all the stars are in alignment we can tap into that stream, and bring it down so it's audible here on earth," says Lesh.
That's the kind of comment that gets believers testifying and skeptics rolling their eyes. The Dead has long endured scorn from those who argue that the band's musicianship pales in comparison to its capacity for excellent vibes. Asked if he feels his band is misunderstood, Lesh laughs.
"Let me tell you an anecdote. My older son, who is 22, was listening to one of his favorite bands, who shall remain nameless, and I couldn't stand it anymore. I said, 'Grahame, this stuff is awful crap.' And he said, 'It must sound that way to the untrained ear, Dad.' "
Yet the list of credible musicians who line up year after year to perform in various Dead spinoff projects - Phil Lesh and Friends, Bob Weir's Ratdog, Mickey Hart's Global Drum Project - is evidence that there's more to these guys than epic jams.
Jazz guitarist John Scofield plays frequently with Lesh. "The jazz community doesn't take them too seriously, and I've got to admit that for a long time I didn't know much about the Dead's music," says Scofield. "I'll tell you that on all counts, as songwriters and as improvisers, they're not taken as seriously as they should be."
Lesh can't say the same for the jam bands whose ranks have swelled in the Grateful Dead's wake. He says he's happy to have opened the door for budding musicians, but that the scene is overrun with impostors, and that the Grateful Dead's true heirs can be found in unlikely places.
"A lot of the so-called jam bands are a lot more arranged than you would think, but there are other artists carrying on this tradition that you wouldn't think of as a jam band. Somebody like Ryan Adams is taking the most profound and meaningful elements of what the Grateful Dead did and applying them his own way," Lesh says. "He's noodling all the time."
© Copyright 2009 Globe Newspaper Company.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
View all San Francisco events on Eventful
The bloggers at Buntology are blogging Don't Forget The Dead
It's good to be Dead - a little article featuring Bill Kreutzmannnnn
Review of last night by David LeMieux
TWO RATDOG Shows added to the Ratdog Summer tour
Good news for the Colorado Crew!
Chautauqua Auditorium, Boulder, CO Sunday, August 30
Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver, CO Monday, August 31
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
By Melissa Ruggieri
Published: April 15, 2009
CHARLOTTESVILLE — It began in typical shambolic fashion — the disheveled-looking band ambled onstage, noodled around with instruments for a few minutes as if at sound check and then, with a few foot taps from Phil Lesh, launched into the first song of a three-hour night.
But what was atypical about tonight’s show from The Dead at John Paul Jones Arena — only the third stop on a 22-date tour — were some of the song selections and arrangements.
Obviously, once The Dead stopped being Grateful after the 1995 death of leader Jerry Garcia, the rest of the band — guitarist Bob Weir, drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, bassist Lesh and newer recruits, keyboardist Jeff Chimenti and guitarist Warren Haynes, on loan again from the Allman Brothers — would always have to distance themselves from Garcia’s iconic memory.
That meant a rare appearance of “New Speedway Boogie,” which featured Hart hammering away at his tom-toms like Gepetto in his workshop, leaving Kreutzmann to hold down the steady beat.
Likewise the Lesh-heavy “Mason’s Children,” which introduced the first sprawling jam of the concert and included some outstanding bass work from Lesh, whose instrument glowed from a blue-lighted fret board.
Haynes’ fluid guitar playing still sings — and stings — and his vocals, which are similar to Garcia’s in tone and range, also anchored many songs.
But when Weir handled lead duties, his voice was often overpowered by the live instrumentation, a hiccup that hardly mattered much to the 12,000-plus assembled, many of them older folks wrapped in tie-dye, but also plenty of Deadheads: The Next Generation.
Any generational gaps were insignificant, especially during the first notes of the peppy “Bertha,” which spurred grown men and teens to start skipping in place, play air guitar and stretch their hands skyward, as if trying to summon the spirit of Garcia.
Considering that this incarnation of The Dead hasn’t toured in more than five years, their musical instincts were impressively sharp even if the sound was spotty.
Eye contact among the members was rarely made during the extensive interludes, from Haynes’ fiery slide solo on the bluesy “Big Boss Man” (another one pulled deep from the archives) to the winding rootsy-rock-jazz epic, “Playing the Band,” which initiated the second set, yet everything melded perfectly.
After nearly an hour intermission, The Dead returned in a more classic mindset, performing songs commonly found on their much-swapped bootlegs.
The cool-at-first, unbearable-after-15-minutes “Drums” literally shook the rafters with Hart’s thunderous percussion that was really more noise than anything groove intensive.
That Dead show staple eventually segued into its usual companion, “Space,” with Haynes endlessly tinkering and the rest of the band quietly plinking in with sound fills.
But the rousing “St. Stephen” and a rollicking sing-a-long of “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodleloo” shifted the mood of the show from mellow experimentation to familiar nostalgia.
It’s a different Dead, to be sure, but one that hasn’t lost its mellow edge.
Contact Melissa Ruggieri at (804) 649-6120 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Listen to KFOG next week (April 20-24) between 8am-8pm. When you hear a Grateful Dead song, be caller #10 to 1-800-300-KFOG and we'll set you up with a pair of lawn tickets to The Dead's show at Shoreline on Thursday, May 14.
But wait, there's more. You'll also win a pair of passes to a very special Private Concert / Live Broadcast with The Dead (Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, and Warren Haynes) in the KFOG PlaySpace.
I already liked the Washigton Post because my sister's husband's uncle was the longtime editor, gentleman and all round great guy ((Ben Bradlee)). But now I've found a whole new reason to like the post- The extensive coverage of the Dead in DC- Here goes:
The Dead in D.C., a Stirring, Smoky Bipartisan Show
Musician Bob Weir performs during "An Evening With The Dead" on April 12, 2009 in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
Updated, 2:22 p.m.
Last night's Dead show in Washington was like hanging out with a long lost, dear friend after many years. We just picked up where we left off.
Clearly Tipper Gore felt the same way. She boogied down on stage, just off Warren Haynes's left shoulder, to "Sugar Magnolia," "Uncle John's Band," and the rousing closer, "Ripple."
The teeming masses of nostalgic (and newbie) Deadheads obliged when bassist Phil Lesh shouted, "Give a big hand for Tipper Gore!" (Lesh, a liver transplant survivor, also urged his fans to become organ donors.)
The former vice president's wife, who was not accompanied by Al, wasn't the only political celebrity digging the four-hour long reunion concert, the second of the band's Spring 2009 tour.
Also there were Obama senior aides David Axelrod, Pete Rouse and Jim Messina, who met with all the surviving members of the Grateful Dead - plus Haynes and keyboardist Jeff Chimenti - at the White House on Monday evening after President Obama hosted the band for a private meeting in the Oval Office.
Last night's crowd was predictably loaded with lefty "Deadheads for Obama" as well as the usual pot-smoking and tripping Deadheads of no political persuasion whatsoever, other than the Party of Jerry. (And yes, plenty - we dare say lots - of people were smoking some sort of sweet green stuff inside the Verizon Center. Note to editors: the Sleuth was horrified.)
But we also spotted plenty of conservatives digging the show. Hardcore conservatives.
As Tipper was on stage swaying her hips, on the other side of the stage, in a suite just off Bob Weir's right shoulder, was Barry Jackson, the longtime deputy to Karl Rove who worked all eight years, right up to the bitter end, in the Bush White House.
Barry was boogeying like nobody's business - through the hour-long rendition of "Dark Star" into the encore.
There were other conservatives there, too, including two senior aides to House Minority Whip Eric Cantor: the whip's chief of staff, Rob Collins. and Matt Lira, director of new media. (Their boss wasn't there; the congressman much prefers Britney Spears to The Dead.)
Last night was nostalgic, and some moments were magical. The opener, "Cassidy," was terrific and a bit of a tearjerker given that it was the first time any of us had seen the entire band together in over a decade.
Aside from covering the fundraisers that Bobby and Mickey Hart have played over the past several years for Congress' preeminent Deadhead, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the Sleuth hadn't seen a real Dead show since 1995 at RFK stadium, the last time Jerry Garcia performed in Washington.
It was great catching up with our old friends again. Hopefully, you will get a chance, too, during the rest of their '09 tour.
UPDATE: We'd like to respond to one of our less friendly commenters, who wrote: "Umm I dont know what show you were at last night, Ms. Slueth, but Tipper Gore actually tried to play the drums during the last song before the encore, Sugar Magnolia, hence why Phil Lesh introduced her prior to his organ donar rap. Mickey Hart also tried to announce, Mrs. Gore but he was too loud in his attempt and his wrods sounded garbled. How you could have missed, Mrs. Gore playing the drums I do not know, as she occasionally had the rhythm but appeared a bit lost most of the time."
Here's why we missed it, and why we're so glad we did: The Sleuth left her seat during space and drums (which, frankly, dragged on too long) to walk around and chat with friends and sources outside and buy a t-shirt. (Dancing bears for the Sleuth, the Dead 2009 t-shirt for Mr. Sleuth.) When we heard the encore we rushed back inside, and found a great spot near the stage. Mrs. Gore had already had her thrill on the drums, which, according to people around me and others with whom I spoke today, wasn't as good as her dancing. While some cheered the former second lady's attempt to jam with the Dead, others booed. We applaud her for her chutzpah.
By Mary Ann Akers | April 15, 2009; 9:51 AM ET
Previous: Obama Meets Privately With the Dead |
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Live Dead setlist updates at http://twitter.com/grateful__dead
Obama meets privately with The Dead!
The surviving (and formerly feuding) members of the Grateful Dead had a secret impromptu meeting Monday evening with the man they credit with reuniting them: President Obama.
The president welcomed all the members of The Dead, who are performing tonight at the Verizon Center in Washington, to the Oval Office just before dinner last night. They didn't talk music as much as they did history - history about the Oval Office, and the president's desk.
Apparently the band was quite taken with how tidy the president keeps his desk. And how down-to-earth he seemed, according a source who was there.
"The president was so gracious. Really, really nice and so welcoming. It hit you: you're in the Oval Office, but it was so normal," the source told us.
The entourage included the four surviving members of the Grateful Dead - Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann - plus keyboardist Jeff Chimenti (from Weir's Ratdog) and Warren Haynes, who is joining the Dead on their 2009 spring tour as lead vocalist and guitarist. Some of them had their wives in tow.
As if chatting with the president in the Oval Office weren't cool enough, something remarkable happened on their way out. Just outside the Oval Office, Phil and his wife, Jill Lesh, spotted a vase full of Scarlet Begonias sitting on a table.
For the uninitiated, "Scarlet Begonias" is one of the late Grateful Dead band leader Jerry Garcia's most famous songs. (Check out a youthful looking Jerry Garcia singing "Scarlet Begonias" in this 1977 video, and be sure you have a tissue.)
After admiring the Scarlet Begonias, the band went next door to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to meet with the most prominent Deadheads in the Obama White House: senior advisors David Axelrod and Pete Rouse, and deputy chief of staff Jim Messina. All three are planning to go to tonight's one and only Dead show in Washington, we're told.
After leaving the White House, the members of the Dead - none of whom, surprisingly, wore tie-dyed t-shirts to the Oval Office - walked over to their favorite Washington restaurant, the Old Ebbitt Grill, for dinner.
Given that the Dead sparked the "Deadheads for Obama" movement when they reunited during the 2008 presidential campaign to play a fundraiser for Obama, we expect to see plenty of happy Deadheads at the show. We'll give you a full update, so check back.
The Dead: A valid reincarnation
TUESDAY, APRIL 14 ( updated 12:15 pm)
By PARKE PUTERBAUGH
GREENSBORO — It’s Easter Sunday, and the Dead have risen.
Yes, the cultural institution known as the Grateful Dead — and now simply “The Dead” — kicked off their first tour in five years at the Greensboro Coliseum on Sunday night. It was a virtual sellout, with every corner of the arena filled with dancing, delirious Deadheads. A total of 17,500 tickets were sold, making this the 13th-largest concert crowd in the coliseum’s history.
The Dead’s lineup includes four original members — bassist Phil Lesh, guitarist Bob Weir and drummers Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart — along with longtime confederates Jeff Chimenti and Warren Haynes on keyboards and guitar, respectively.
Although Jerry Garcia, the group’s late guitarist and the broader counterculture’s reluctant guru, is fundamentally irreplaceable, The Dead is a valid reincarnation. They played for close to four hours and seemed intent on re-establishing the experimental side of the group’s legacy.
They began with “The Music Never Stopped” — a choice that made a subtly implicit point about endurance.
Later in the first set, they performed “He’s Gone” and “Touch of Grey” back-to-back, again alluding to their own history — both Garcia’s death (“Nothing’s gonna bring him back”) and their own will to persevere (“We will survive”).
Throughout the evening, the songs themselves were well-played, although the jams that ended or connected them sometimes lacked focus and coherence. “I Need a Miracle” and “Truckin’ ” were rousing and tight, but the tricky, reggae-accented 7/4 time of “Estimated Prophet” seemed to throw the band into disarray. A cover of “All Along the Watchtower” — Jimi Hendrix by way of Bob Dylan — elicited a fiery reading from Haynes.
Phil Lesh played a nifty bass with glowing blue LEDs embossed into the neck. The graying, laconic Bob Weir stood front and center, and though he appeared expressionless, he seemed to relish the opportunity to step out more than usual on guitar. Weir and Haynes didn’t mesh particularly well as guitarists, but perhaps their chemistry will evolve as the tour progresses.
Haynes brought a gritty, bluesy energy to the band, but he also nailed Garcia’s lighter touch in places, especially the unique duck-quack tone Garcia got from the wah-wah pedal.
On the other hand, Haynes isn’t Garcia, and he’s ultimately better-suited to the earthier Allman Brothers Band, which he joined back in 1989, than the Dead.
That’s no knock on Haynes’ fabulous musicianship but an acknowledgement that the era-specific nuances of vintage psychedelia and the ability to play in a free-form “outside” style are not his strong suit.
This was especially clear in a second-set segue from a techno-style long jam that followed “Caution: Do Not Stop on Tracks” into a painfully long “Drums”-“Space” interlude. The whole sequence had a meandering, amorphous quality, and it chewed up a huge amount of time.
Once the Dead exited that train wreck, they redeemed themselves by exhuming the trippy oldies “Cosmic Charlie” and “Born Cross Eyed,” to the delight of hard-core Deadheads.
They ended the second set with a spirited “Help Is On the Way,” ”Slipknot!” and “Franklin’s Tower” trifecta, highlighted by tight parallel climbs from Lesh on bass and Haynes on guitar.
The deafening screams and applause that greeted the Dead when they returned for an encore was enthusiastic and heartfelt, and this outpouring didn’t go unnoticed by Lesh.
“It’s good to be back with you folks,” he said. “The hair is standing on the back of my neck.”
Parke Puterbaugh is a freelance contributor.
Be sure to check out Alan Hess's new blog
Monday, April 13, 2009
Postcard from the Road
Postcard from the Road
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Sunday, April 05, 2009
Booking for 2010 Ratdog Daze in Jamaica is opening up!!
Scott and I can't think of a negative thing to say about our experience at Ratdog Daze 2009.
The resort was laid back, everyone was there for Ratdog..food and drink were available at all hours.
I spent most of my time in water- sea (warm) pool (clean) jacuzzi (hot!) and the HUGE tub (with jets!).
Here's a mini account of how we spent the first half of our time there-
Monday- Red eye to Miami, met an acquaintance-also RD Daze bound in the check in line.
Tuesday- Arrived in Miami, met about 4 fellow travellers on the way to RD daze at that airport!
Arrive in Montego, there's even more friends-fellow fans picking up baggage and checking into the Lido Lounge.
Our bus to the resort arrives and we are all giddily on our way to Negril. The scenic ride passes thru a few small towns.
Many colorful huts and goats are spotted along the way.
About 2/3rds of the way the bus pulls into a bar-cafe. Fellow riders enjoy a 10 minute break to get a drink and refreshen up. I head straight to the grill and try out the much dreamt of Jerk Chicken. It is hot, spicy and everyone gets a taste.
Back on the bus and soon we are @ the Lido. We walk by swimsuit clad friends who have been at Lido for several days attending the LittleFeat festival. Ellen tells me my hair has already begun to curl up due to the humidity.
Checked in and then follow a bell boy to our lovely beach front room. We quickly change out of our travel threads into beachwear, then off to tour the premises. We don't get far til we run into friends and at that point it's sort of a pub crawl around to the resort's various bars.
There is a huge main bar (the grand palazzo) which also serves as a dance venue and dining area for the breakfast & lunch buffets. In the back there are slot machines, a disc and a computer rental place. On a different level of this area are a few of the resort's restaurants. Scott and I decide on the Italian place. As soon as we are seated, a friend comes by and joins us, then another and then a couple we know comes in and hangs out as well. And so it goes with friends coming and going and boy, it sure was fun! I think everyone was extra happy that all the food and drink was already paid for in the all inclusive price of the resort. Pricy but completely worth it!
The rest of the evening was spent drinking (dirty Bananas), schmoozing and dancing to house band in the Grand Palazzo.
Woke early and scampered to the Palazzo to get some coffee. Enjoy the breakfast buffet (huge) and people watch the folks leaving from the Little Feat fest as more folks arrive for the Ratdog Daze.
I cash in on my included manicure and pedicure. I find the spa offices and am brought to the beauty salon where I meet some new people and run into a friend or 2 as well! My feet looking pretty, I have a few corn rows put on each side of my head to keep my crazy frizzing hair from mushrooming out. Festive and manageable.
Return to the suite to get in to a swim suit and go to the beach for most of the day.
Throughout the day info drifts my way that begin with a rumor that MK will be playing the Opening Jam...with every person I run into, the rumors expand to include various band members also sitting in for the jam. Day turns into night, and everyone ( only 420 guests plus about another 50 from the overflow resorts )is assembled in the Grand Palazzo. The Opening Jam features Mark (he sang with a voice so strong it's hard to believe he just whipped throat caner last year!). Various Ratdog band mates join in, each having a shining solo spot thru assorted songs and melodies..and then there's Bobby! The crowd is just a sea of smiling, dancing people- some of whom have just arrived at the resort suitcases in hand.(snowy conditions caused major transportation snafus for many ). It's a big fun opening jam!!!
My routine is established, I wake before Scotto, head to breakfast with my netbook in hopes of skyping my kids.
The internet was a bit sketchy but I was able to chat with my kids, my friend Kemmie and my oldest son who was (still is) working in Jerusalem. Over breakfast, I am able to share video taken the night before with a variety of friends and passer byers. Everyone is friendly. Eventually, Scotto joins me.
Back to the room to get ready for the beach & pool.
Swimming and floating and thinking pleasant thoughts is my newest favorite vacation activity. After hours of this, I regroup with Scott & our new best buddy, Steve. We take a walk down Bong Alley to find the poolside grill- located on the nude side of the resort. There are some naked people around but not so many at the grill. The best chops and jerk is here. Also, they have french fries!! Poolside Grill is now our favorite lunchy-snack stop. The guys vow to wear sunglasses so if they forget to stop staring, no one will notice.
I'm back in the sea before sound check starts. Did I ever dream I'd be watching Bobby sing AND be floating in the Caribbean simultaneously??? It was awesome!
After soundcheck, I hung with friends and as it was getting late, ran back to change into dinner & show attire.
The show was on the beach, not much trumps dancing barefoot in the sand to my favorite musicians!
The post show scene was at the Far Bar- there was a feast of grilled yummies there. Everyone and that includes most of the band, crew and significant Ratdog others came out (no Bobby-he & his family were staying off the resort somewhere I imagine more child friendly)and it was a warm relaxed and heady time.
Again, early to rise and off with a bag of electronica to the Palazzo! I never tired of coffee in the Grand Palazzo. The openess and the friendly feel of it , folks breakfasting with friends reminded me of the Student Union in college .
On the entry level of the Palazzo, by the front desk was a whiteboard where the daily events were noted.
Friday was a stand out day as there was a Golf Tourney hosted by AJ and Jeff Chimenti. Later in the evening there was a Poker Tourney hosted by Charucki. I was sorry to miss a visit (arranged by Heather/Evening Moods) to a local school. I had wanted to go but hadnt been sure of the time to meet up and so missed out. There had been a school supply drive for RD fans. I had enjoyed packing a bag full of items but again missed the pick up time for the bags. I gave my bag to the front desk and they promptly lost track of it. Next year, I'll be more careful about the school items and visit as it seems very important that the kids in Jamaica receive as much as they can in terms of school supplies.
Dinner was awesome at the Reggae Grill . We moseyed around some and discovered the disco!!! The disco was very small but the music was quite loud. It was deserted until we realized that a Live Warrior game was on a flat screen TV in there! Scott and his buddies settled right in ....
Saturday, April 04, 2009
Ready or not here comes baseball again!
I like that this http://30daysout.wordpress.com/2009/04/02/play-ball-2/ blog has listed a good old baseball song with playing by Jerry Garcia aqnd Bobby Weir in it!
Win a trip to see The Dead - and take me along!!!
Check this out!
Friday, April 03, 2009
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
"It’s just like playing a three-hour show,” said the Dead’s Bob Weir, backstage at New York’s Angel Orensanz theater, “but it’s broken up by cab rides.” Weir wasn’t joking. To unofficially kick off their spring reunion tour, the Dead had grand plans to play a free concert in a large outdoor venue in New York City, possibly Battery Park. When both the weather and city paperwork scotched that idea, the band did the next best thing. On March 30th, the Dead played three free, back-to-back shows in the city like Prince did in L.A. Saturday night; the roughly 4,100 free tickets were distributed to fans by Internet lottery.
And what a long, intermittently strange day it was, beginning with Weir, bassist Phil Lesh and touring guitarist Warren Hynes playing “Friend of the Devil” on The View. (The band is longtime friends with co-host Whoopi Goldberg.) At 5 p.m. the men did a rare acoustic-trio set at the intimate Angel Orensanz, a former synagogue on the Lower East Side. The show focused on American Beauty and Workingman’s Dead classics like “Dire Wolf,” “Cumberland Blues” and “Casey Jones,” but the highlight was a largely instrumental, 20-minute version of “Bird Song,” the three men weaving guitar lines in and around each other.
At 8 p.m., Lesh, Weir and Haynes were joined by drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann and keyboardist Jeff Chimenti at the Gramercy Theatre, where the full band played an hour of nonstop electric music. Nearly half the set was taken up by an introductory jam and “Playing in the Band,” followed by beefy renditions of “Good Lovin,’” “The Wheel” and “Franklin’s Tower” that revealed how tight the reformed band has become after lengthy rehearsals in February. (Dropped from the set list due to the one-hour time limit were planned versions of “Viola Lee Blues” and “Built to Last.”)
At 11 p.m., the day of the living Dead wound up at the largest of the three venues, the 3,000-capacity Roseland. Still in electric mode, the Dead awed an enraptured, dancing crowd with nearly two more hours of music, starting with “Althea” (on which Haynes sang Garcia’s parts, as he often did), followed by “Cassidy,” “Eyes of the World” and a typically improvisational “St. Stephen.” The set ended with a celebratory, guitar-jammy “Sugar Magnolia,” Haynes throwing in Chuck Berry riffs. “This band is interesting,” said Hart afterward, slipping into Forest Gump voice. “It’s like a box of chocolate: You never know what you’re gonna get.”
The shows served as a warm-up for the Dead’s full tour, which starts April 12th in Greensboro, North Carolina, and continues through mid-May. (The band has worked up nearly 100 songs, including rarely performed oddities like “King’s Solomon’s Marbles.”) What did the band think of the music they made on their Manhattan “cab tour”? “It still needs some work,” Weir said after the Roseland set. “We have to stratify our parts more. But hope is on the horizon.”
For much more from the Dead’s triple-gig marathon in New York, keep your eyes peeled for a full story in an upcoming issue of Rolling Stone.