Author Archives: Graceful Dead

Expanded Notes on Camden

Posted by on June 24, 2016

There was, praise God, exactly zero LABS (Lame Ass Bobby Songs).

Which was one of my principal concerns about going to a Bobby-led show; and the alternative might be Mayers’s breathy “I-can’t-decide-if-I-want-to-sing-or-not” shtick.

Every number burned down at least one barn. Several songs burned down more than one, with some raging jam that ever so skillfully modulated back to a gentle melody, and then Oh yeah, there’s one more verse.

John Mayer does not need me to tell him this, but he is a spectacularly gifted guitar player. Jerry in his “drowsy” years could not hold a candle to this, Funny to think of him in the Pit in Chicago less than a year ago. But I think he absorbed the vibe very very well.

And Oteil (I must learn how to pronounce his name) earned mad props. On more than one number I perceived him overtly giving respect to play the Phil licks just right (Shakedown, Eyes) , but then he eventually cut loose, and Oh my, he could play for me any night.

Bobby most often acted as the leader of the sing-along. There were several times when I could hear 1,000 people or so start to sing the next line before he got to it. And it may have been an illusion, but there was a pause on the stage for Playin in the Band where I could swear 1,000 people started doing their own Donna “ohyehaehahhayah”.

On the animation: Yes. Not as much as FTW, but again very tightly integrated with Drums (do NOT make that your bathroom break) and a nice re-interpretation of the old icons.

One great and delightful mystery was the camera work for the big screens. It had to be very discretely remotely operated. I did not see camera operators but there were awesome closeups and shots of facial expressions and nods being shot around the stage.

Most importantly, I see this tour as a hopeful sign that this music and or movement will make it another 20 or 50 years. These new musicians, with unparalleled skills, apprenticing at these events makes me believe they will continue to propagate it. There were just 3 of the originals left on the stage, at the center of a growing core of those who can carry on.

A fascinating treasure

Posted by on January 22, 2016

I went looking for some information to support my perception that certain songs were routinely played at certain parts of Dead shows.  We are all familiar with songs that are typical openers, typical set closers, and so on.

I asked the folks at Set Lists, who had compiled what they called “Average Set Lists” for particular Dead years, if they could rate each song for its average position in the set lists through all performances.

They came back in a flash with a spreadsheet that lists 450 songs that were performed at Dead shows, how many times each was performed, and what each songs average position was in the set sequence.  It is quite interesting; there are 200 songs that were played less than 10 times.  Conveniently, each song also identified the original artist, helpful for some obscure covers.

I am happy to share the file with anyone interested; and I’ll provide one sort that just has the 75 songs that were performed more than 200 times,  Ranked in their average set position, they form quite a recognizable list of a Dead mega-show, as if a greatest hits 3 night run list were merged together but kept in the order played.

A Big Life

Posted by on September 6, 2015

A mighty giant had laid down to join his ancestors. But he fell across the trail in the Pacific rain forest that we were hiking on. The forest service cut the tree to re-open the path, and left the fresh face of the trunk at about eye level, leaning up the hill side where it fell.

The outer edge of the bark was a deep rust color, and the color had been seeping down in the month or so since it fell. In successive rings, though, the inner core had brighter and brighter tones, until the central core was virtually white. And centered there was a pattern that resembled a tree in outline, with a great canopy spread above the center point, and a vast root system below.

At the well spring of life for that large creature was the very idea of Tree, the Form of what each tree of its kind should be. Though this particular embodiment of that concept was now to begin its very prolonged decay, it is succeeded by many, many others which sprang from the same source.

Or maybe I am projecting my feelings about my father in his decline.

The Greatest American Rock Band

Posted by on August 16, 2015

You know who I mean.

For their unrivaled track record of creativity and innovation, continuing even today, in light and sound.

For the highest level of musicianship, sustained over many decades.

For the breadth and durability of their own songbook.

For their lively and invigorating interpretation of the traditional American songbook.

And of course the testimony of the fan base, who the word “loyal” does not begin to describe. No other band has ever had anything like that following, neither in their heyday nor continuing so long, long after.

Three Degrees of Slow

Posted by on August 9, 2015

Three observations about the infectious lilt that is the pace of Grateful Dead music (and that gives Deadheads their characteristic walk while listening to Jehovah’s favorite choir).

John Mayer said that the pace of Dead music made him notice how different it was from  “everything ..processed and quantized and gridded out – to hear ‘Tennessee Jed’ played with that lope..”

And in Kreutzman’s recent interviews he stated that one of the main lessons he learned from Garcia about music was to play “a really full four beats. Don’t rush to the end of the bar”

Finally, learning that the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds have joined the Giants in planning Grateful Dead nights (thanks for the tip from Holly Hiker), makes me speculate that a steady, measured pace of things might make for more overlap between Dead fans and baseball fans than there is with football fans.

I’m runnin’, but I take my time.

Five New Deadheads in my Family

Posted by on July 26, 2015

My very extended family was well-represented at Fare Thee Well, including 5 young adults who went there with their Deadhead parents (dragged there would be too strong a term).  Each came away ready to confess:

There is NOTHING like a Grateful Dead concert.

Any amount of listening to recordings would not have had the same effect as that full sensory immersion, and a very important factor was the overflowing love, peace and harmony shown by everyone there.  But full credit to the band, to continue to experiment and innovate, to improvise new music in front of a massive crowd which did have its skeptics.

I have a mental image of the crucible of energy of the Acid Test days, which fused under intense heat and pressure into the nuclear core of the Grateful Dead, has now burst like a supernova in a spectacular display of energy; yet it has not disappeared, because it was captured in the souls of so many thousands of people, and it will NOT fade away.

Know Your Deadhead Neighbors

Posted by on July 19, 2015

Through an unlikely series of events, my sister had a handful of Sunday night tickets to distribute on very short notice.  She was pleased to discover that Deadheads  really are everywhere.  Not knowing how people would respond, she began asking various contacts about their possible interest in tickets, and was surprised at those who immediately replied, “Yes, I will meet you any place at any hour to receive tickets”.

No one here would be surprised that she would find this response, but she did not who in her range of acquaintances would be those folks.  Only on a hunch did she contact her former downstairs neighbor, a person she thought she knew well after many years sharing a building. Or the fellow doing work on her house. Or the friend of our brother, who only found out that our brother was going to the show when did not show up to play guitar with him at church on Sunday morning.  Some inquiries and quick calls by the guitar player, just hours before the show,  ended up with him learning that, miracle of miracles, Yes, there was one more ticket available.
This gets me to thinking that every town in America ought to have an event when Deadheads can come out and get acquainted.  I expect that there will be many more Dead nights at pubs and such, but we surely need a way to find each other.

Impressive gear

Posted by on July 12, 2015

Making my first poke around in many months.

What does this knob do?  Whoa!

I think we can quadriplex the KDED vibe into many more frequencies here.


Posted by on May 12, 2015

Just a half mile from the designated meeting spot is a well-stocked

Trader Joe’s
1147 S Wabash Ave