In his 1972 conversation with Charles Reich, Jerry Garcia told the Yale Law School professor, “You’ve got a lot of margin, man, you’ve got a long way up. You can push it a lot further.” For Dead Heads, watching the last year unfold felt like Garcia’s comment was coming true, on so many levels—not just for his bandmates, but for all of us on the bus. From the runaway success of Dead & Company to the homey comforts and world-class music of Terrapin Crossroads, Dead Heads had a wealth of new experiences to sample and new music to hear, even as the band’s storied past continued to unfold, bolstered by a slew of historic recordings from the Vault. The amount of ink that heralded all of this activity showed that the interest in the band, both past and present, hasn’t abated; indeed, that kind of respect and presence now feels like the new normal, as younger fans are welcomed and older fans feel validated. Of course it isn’t the same—but some of us remember when the band’s first fans told those of us who started seeing shows in the late 1970s that it would never be the Dead without Pigpen.
Of course it wasn’t. But the bigger point was that there were many Grateful Deads; sometimes it felt as if there were as many as there were fans—even in the same show. And that was all part of the uniqueness of the Dead phenomenon: as David Gans once commented, “All of us have the power to manifest the Grateful Dead in whatever way we deem best.” Or as Ken Kesey wrote at an Acid Test, “Outside is inside, how does it look?” When we look back over the last year, it looks very good indeed.
Kesey’s comment was designed to make Acid Test participants realize that what they were feeling and thinking would not only color but actually govern what they experienced— good lessons, not only for trippers, but for humans in general. Fifty years later, Kesey’s words also make a nice nod to the recent cavalcade of Vault releases, as the contents of that audio mine continue to disgorge a steady stream of gems and nuggets. In the past year, we’ve been treated to some of the band’s best moments, from hidden treasures to landmark performances. Dave’s Picks continued to dazzle fans, with powerful sets from 1874, 1976, 1970, and 1981; they joined the spectacular box set of the July 1978 tour, capped by the legendary show at Red Rocks on July 8, long considered one of the band’s best. Most exciting was the provenance of the tapes that made the box possible: drawn from the fabled Betty Boards, fans at last could hear what those tapes mean for our understanding of the band at one of its peaks, now professionally polished and presented with the full context of that short, triumphant tour. The Dead will always be associated with the 1960s, but their work in the following decade was pivotal, as these recordings make plain.
One of the Dead’s hallmarks was their ability to make the past live, not just renewing history but making it new, whether that was with songs from the great American songbook or their own take on timeless themes and ideas that have inspired artists for centuries. This past year was no exception, as the remaining band members continued to create new and exciting music.
The biggest news was the continuing success of Dead & Company, which represented the year’s greatest effort for three of the four remaining band members. The remarkable success of the summer 2015 Fare Thee Well concerts demonstrated how much the band’s repertoire and performance meant, to so many—including John Mayer, who had been avidly absorbing the band’s music since 2011. When Mayer guest hosted The Late Late Show in February 2015, he invited Bob Weir to perform with him, and the two kept in touch afterwards. But Fare Thee Well only whetted fans’ appetites, and after the shows, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann and Bob Weir agreed that it had been too much fun to stop.
With Phil Lesh focused on his Terrapin Crossroads and his regular engagements at the Capitol Theatre (see below), they tapped John Mayer, Allman Brothers’ bassist Oteil Burbridge and longtime Dead-affiliated keyboardist Jeff Chimenti to form Dead & Company, playing a show at Madison Square Garden that met with rave reviews from both fans and critics. Dead Heads were rapturous over the tour that followed, and absolutely giddy when Mayer announced at the end of the New Year’s Eve show in LA that we could expect to hear more in 2016.
He was as good as his word. Dead & Company had already pledged to play Bonnaroo the next summer, but in February they announced a full tour: 24 shows in 20 cities, over 7 weeks. Best of all, it would be prefaced by a free show at San Francisco’s legendary Fillmore Auditorium, one of the earliest venues where the Dead had first honed their chops and built their audience. Fans lucky enough to score one of the coveted tickets were treated to a truly historic evening, with a set that covered chestnuts and classics, buoyed by a vibe that everyone recognized immediately: a night where everyone was so happy that hugs were spontaneous, and everyone there knew we were all still in the heart of gold band. It was not only a reminder that the music never stopped, but that Dead Heads are still the best audience on the planet.
A couple of weeks later the band hit the road, and the response was tremendous. It was a tour that reassured older fans and turned the curious into converts. Every stop created stories and left memories, from Oteil’s widely publicized show at the Gorge where he profoundly intuited—and experienced—the legacy of psychedelics in the Dead’s music (“eye opening,” he recounted later) to Donna Jean Godchaux’s appearances,
sitting in for a few songs at Bonnaroo, Citi Field in Flushing, New York, and finally at both shows at Boston’s famed Fenway Park. Mayer sent out a moving Instagram message at the close of the tour, calling it “magical” and praising his bandmates and the fans for creating “a beautiful adventure.” His elegy showed why he has found his place in this band, especially his final sentence, where he paid tribute to Garcia, writing “to Jerry: what a light you are that I could bask in your shadow.” It underscored a remark Bobby made in April, when he told Billboard magazine, “this legacy here, there’s a chance now that they’ll be talking about us in years to come.” Indeed. In the meantime, all four band members continued to add to that legacy individually, too.
The indefatigable Mickey Hart had a typically busy year. In addition to his work with Dead & Company, he managed to find time to continue his own music, art, and writing. Mickey’s range has always been astounding, and it’s gratifying to see that being acknowledged: in late October, the Wentworth Gallery in Short Hills, New Jersey, presented a selection of his paintings called “The Art of Mickey Hart.” His haunting abstracts and mixed media riffs on classic Dead icons and motifs have added a powerful dimension to his artistic vision, which he calls “visual representations from my sonic driven world.” It’s fascinating to see that world continue to evolve in colors and on canvas, and not just with sounds.
Words are another of Hart’s fortes, and over the years, Mickey has contributed essays and speeches on a wide array of topics. He took the time to pen two fine efforts this year: a tribute to his friend Remo Belli, the famed drum maker, and a lovely foreword to longtime band photographer Susana Millman’s powerful new book, Alive with the Dead, published in October.
But the core of Mickey’s work will always be music, and the heart of that is the drum. This year he revisited his landmark album Planet Drum, which inspired a new song, “Sea of Showers.” A collaboration with his old friends and colleagues Zakir Hussain, Flora Purim and Babatunde Olatunji, all of whom participated in the original project, “Sea of Showers” is what Hart calls “a meditation,” named for “the dark patch on the near side of moon, which faces Earth and makes up the right eye of the ‘Man in the Moon.’” Drawn from music recorded in 1991, it is one of three new songs complementing the original album, whose upcoming re-release will celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Grammy-winning recording.
Planet Drum remains one of Hart’s favorite projects. “This experience was about people wanting to come together,” he reminisced recently. The essence of the magic was that participants “weren’t culturally bound by their rhythms; they were in the right place at the right time for a new gumbo, a new way of coming together, egoless, in the spirit, to have fun and record a classic 20th century gamelan,” the traditional Indonesian percussion ensemble. For Hart, that had been a long-sought goal, “the carrot,” as he put it: “I always wanted to ring that bell.” That bell rings anew in December, when the new edition will be released. In addition to bringing his entire solo catalog back into print, this collaboration will also put Mickey back into the studio for a new album to be released in 2017.
Bill Kreutzmann has had a busy year as well. In addition to drumming for Dead & Company, he played two shows with his solo project Billy & the Kids in April, delighting fans at San Francisco’s famed Warfield Theatre and Mill Valley’s intimate Sweetwater, where Bob Weir sat in. That was far from the only praise for Billy this year. His memoir Deal: My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreams, and Drugs with the Grateful Dead earned a coveted spot on the New York Times bestseller list, and is poised to earn a new set of readers with its paperback edition.
One piece of recognition that Bill is especially pleased about is personal, though not about him: his grandfather Clark Shaughnessy has been nominated for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017. This honor is something that Bill has been championing for years: Shaughnessy was a powerful presence in Bill’s life, and he remembers stories of his grandfather being pulled over for driving too slowly because he was mapping formations and tactics on the windshield. Securing Shaughnessy’s place in the Hall of Fame has been a personal quest for Bill, long overdue recognition of his grandfather’s prowess as a coach and as one of the great innovators of the game. Hailed as the founder of the forward pass, Shaughnessy is also credited with perfecting the T formation, which had emerged in the 1880s but never really achieved its potential until his tireless efforts to refine it. It helped the Chicago Bears in their record-breaking 73-0 victory over the Washington Redskins in the 1940 National League title game, with Shaughnessy providing able assistance, as well as take Stanford to the Rose Bowl in 1941 under Shaughnessy’s leadership.
Closer to home, Bill and his wife Aimee are working on their 21-acre organic farm on Kauai’s north shore, adapting it from traditional row crops to a more sustainable permaculture design. “We call our farm Hana Mana Iki Permaculture Gardens,” Aimee explains, after the Hawaiian term for “small miracles.” Part of that miracle is providing a sanctuary for a busy drummer to rest and recuperate from playing and touring.
Phil Lesh and his team provided a wonderful summary of his activities which we’re pleased to be able to present here. “The center of the Phil Lesh universe remains Terrapin Crossroads which celebrated its fourth anniversary this year. TXR hosted musical acts including Sturgill Simpson, Hot Tuna, the Infamous Stringdusters, John Scofield, Scott Amendola, Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams, the David Nelson Band, Bill Frisell, Chris Robinson, Luther and Cody Dickinson, Karl Denson, Kiefer Sutherland, Melvin Seals, Stanley Jordan, and Eric Krasno, to mention only a few. Dead Heads were treated to Phil Lesh & Friends’ recreations of vintage Grateful Dead shows by year. These intimate shows included a Q & A with Phil conducted by acclaimed photographer Jay Blakesberg, one of which included Jack Casady.
“Perhaps the most exciting events of the year were Terrapin Crossroads’ Backyard Bashes, held in the newly created outdoor performance space in the park next door. Phil put together some great bands that included Stanley Jordan, Melvin Seals, David Nelson, Rob Eaton, Rob Barraco, and Boyd Tinsley, who recreated some historic shows, including Return to Aquarius—a celebration of the original Woodstock Festival where Phil Lesh & Friends not only performed the Grateful Dead set in its entirely, but portions of the sets from every band who performed at this watershed event. Other fantastic Backyard Bashes included recreations of Watkins Glen 1973 and Dylan and the Dead.
“Phil continued his residency at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York, with a variety of special friends including Warren Haynes, Rob Barraco, Larry Campbell, Teresa Williams, Luther Dickinson, Barry Sless, Jason Crosby, and Nicki Bluhm. Phil also headlined the Lockn’ Festival in Arlington, Virginia, in what was the forty-fourth anniversary of the Veneta, Oregon Field Trip captured in the archival concert film Sunshine Daydream. Phil’s festival performance featured an all–star band that included Anders Osborne, Page McConnell and Jon Fishman from Phish, and the Infamous Stringdusters. This historic performance also featured special guests Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, and Joe Russo. The next day’s performance with members of the Chris Robinson Brotherhood was no less spectacular.
“Capping off a great year will be New Year’s celebrations in Hawaii. Phil Lesh & Friends will be performing December 29 at the Castle Theater in Maui and New Year’s Eve at The Hawaii Theater in Honolulu.”
Congratulations to Phil and his team for their industry and creativity, as they continue to explore the dimensions of community in music that first set the Dead on their path, more than fifty years ago.
Bob Weir collected a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2016 Americana Honors and Awards. Those achievements continue on, beginning with his work in Dead & Company. Another recent project has given him the opportunity to revisit songs he learned as a teenager in Wyoming, working on a ranch. In the evenings, he listened to older ranch-hands and cowboys, learning the songs and lore of the West. Fans can hear the musical legacy of those reflections on Bobby’s new solo album, Blue Mountain. Recorded with a stellar cast of musicians, the album has already garnered wide acclaim, with the New York Times praising it as “an album of stately, autumnal, metaphysical cowboy songs” and the Associated Press calling it “As heartfelt as anything Weir has ever written.”
The album is Weir’s first solo release in a decade, and his first album of wholly original material in thirty years. Always a gracious collaborator, Weir worked with producer Josh Kaufman, songwriter Josh Ritter and guitarists Aaron Dessner and Bryce Dessner and bassist Scott Devendorf. His fall “Campfire Tour,” which began on October 7, covered eight cities; at the time this went to press, just a few nights in, the accolades from both fans and critics are echoing over social media, fusing enthusiasm and respect with the gratitude owed artists who work that hard, that long, and bring us such joy.
The Garcia Family continues to be busy, ably shepherded by Trixie Garcia. Fans have been treated to a number of rarities in the last year, with even more exciting releases in the wings. Volume 7 in the GarciaLive series presented a previously unknown Garcia Band show from November 1976, restored from a tape that Donna Jean Godchaux found. Recorded at Sophie’s in Palo Alto, the show features superb work by Garcia along with Donna Jean, her husband Keith on keyboards, Garcia Band mainstay John Kahn on bass, and Ron Tutt on drums. Garcia aficionados were especially delighted with the rarely performed “Ride Mighty High” that ended the show.
Fans were even more excited to learn of the existence of a tape of Garcia’s first studio session, located by the engineer who recorded it. Stanford student Ted Claire, who worked for the campus radio station KZSU, captured a superb set by the Hart Valley Drifters in the fall of 1962. One of Garcia’s early groups, the band also featured Robert Hunter on bass, future New Rider David Nelson on guitar, Norm van Maastrich on dobro, and Ken Frankel on banjo, fiddle and guitar. A window into the early Palo Alto folk scene that incubated the Grateful Dead, the recording shows Garcia and friends working out on several folk classics, including “Sitting On Top of the World.” Painstakingly remastered, the album—called simply Folk Time—will be released on November 11.
More than a half century later, Garcia’s bandmates in the Grateful Dead gathered to pay tribute to their friend and colleague, along with a star-studded array of musicians who acknowledged their own debt to Garcia. Called Dear Jerry, the concert was recorded in 2015 at Merriweather Post Pavilion and gathered Garcia’s friends and associates, including several whose music had played an important role in Garcia’s work. Jimmy Cliff, Grace Potter, Allen Toussaint, and many others all lent their talents to this remarkable concert.
Clearly, Garcia’s place in American music is secure, but it’s good to see his role in American history also being acknowledged. San Francisco plans to dedicate a plaque commemorating his childhood homes in the city’s Excelsior District in October. A tribute that’s been a long time in the making, the proposal made the case for why San Francisco should honor one of her most famous sons, pointing out his “unique contributions to the social and cultural life of the city”. Located on the corner of Mission and Harrington Street, the plaque’s official unveiling will take place as part of San Francisco’s Excelsior Sunday Streets Festival.
It all bodes well for Garcia’s seventy-fifth anniversary in 2017, with the Garcia Family promising fans “a number of special releases and events” to celebrate that milestone. A taste of what’s in store is the new Jerry Garcia Collection, which showcases Garcia’s achievements as a visual artist. As Trixie noted, her father’s art provides a wonderful counterpoint to his music by providing a window into what “his mind was like off of the stage.” The Collection offers fans a chance to experience another vital dimension of a multifaceted artist whose work we are still exploring, more than twenty years after his early, untimely passing.
The Dead were always about looking forward, not back, and one of the most exciting aspects of the ongoing mystery of the Grateful Dead experience is how it continues today: after a half century, we can still smile, listen, dance, and ruminate on one of the most intriguing and enduring cultural and artistic phenomena in American history, even as it continues to unfold. In September, just before he headed off to Nashville, Bobby recalled the fun of the summer tour over lunch at the Sweetwater. But he grew serious as he recounted a recent dream—the vision he had discussed with Billboard in April. In it, he was looking down at Dead & Company on stage, with a much older John and Oteil and Jeff; he and Mickey and Billy were gone, replaced by much younger players whom he couldn’t recognize. “I understood then,” he finished, smiling, “that this could go on.”
That may be the enduring lesson of the past year, the theme that connects all of these efforts: the world still needs the Dead, still needs the work and music of these brothers in music, and the example they set. Like Jerry said, 45 years ago: there’s still a lot of margin. And best of all, as this past year shows, they can still push it a lot further. We’re all looking forward to what the next year brings.
Listen to "Cosmic Charlie" from the album Aoxomoxoa
As we head into 2017, we're starting our 6th year of the Dave's Picks series. And we can't thank you enough for continuing to support, and being interested in, our quarterly archival release series. When we started the series, with a long phone call in the summer of 2011 between myself and Doran and Mark at Rhino, we decided to retire the Road Trips series and start something new, something that was specifically crafted to meet the needs and interests that reflected your feedback over the previous four years. In late 2011, I mapped out the first five years, 20 Picks, of the series, but not beyond that. Although we veered off course quite a bit in those five years and 20 Picks, we did so mainly because of the flexibility we've allowed ourselves in letting the music play the series. What's right to release at any given time is what we focus on. As for the next five years, Picks #21-40? We don't know what's beyond #21 (which you might have heard is the exceptional 4/2/73 show at the Boston Garden, a truly perfectly-played example of the excellence that defined 1973 Grateful Dead concerts), but we have some great ideas brewing. The world of archival Grateful Dead music has some exciting times ahead, so stay tuned. We love working on this series, and we do it because of you. Your support and feedback and enthusiasm is what drives us to make each Pick as exciting as the last one. - David
Due to continued demand, we're keeping the 2017 Dave’s Picks production run at 16,500 of each of the four releases, but as with the 20 previous volumes, we expect all of the four Dave’s Picks in 2017 to sell out quickly; some of the past releases sold out in less than 24 hours! We say this every year, and we'll keep saying it because it is true - the only way to avoid disappointment and be guaranteed that you'll receive all four Dave's Picks in 2017 is to subscribe.
In addition to the four CD releases in 2017, totaling 12 CDs, you’ll also get the subscription-exclusive bonus disc, which has proven to be one of the most highly sought after collectables we’ve ever released and free domestic shipping. Subscriber bonus discs will not be released outside of this offer.
DAVE’S PICKS 2017 SUBSCRIPTION BENEFITS
• Four Limited Edition, Numbered Releases
• Highly Collectible Bonus Disc
• Free Domestic Shipping
• Delivered Throughout The Year
• A savings of approx. $29.96 over purchasing a la carte
In honor of 50th anniversary of the Grateful Dead's first single, we're excited to announce a brand new highly-collectible 7” vinyl series and a subscription to that series, to boot. 2017 will bring pressings of the first four of the band’s 27 singles on 7-inch colored vinyl, each limited to 10,000 copies and available exclusively at dead.net. The remaining 23 singles will be released over the next few years.
The first release, arriving March 1, is the band’s 1966 debut: “Stealin’” b/w “Don’t Ease Me In.” When Gene Estribou produced “Stealin’” and its B-side, “Don’t Ease Me In” in his San Francisco studio, the songs were already staples of the band’s early live shows. Fewer than 250 copies of the single ever saw the light of day. This limited-edition reissue is the single’s first pressing in 50 years and features remastered audio, edited by David Glasser to reflect the original single edits.
Other volumes to be released in 2017 include:
“The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)”/“Cream Puff War”
“Dupree’s Diamond Blues”/“Cosmic Charley”
We strongly encourage you to subscribe to the series, not only to ensure the very best deal, but to ensure you receive all four releases issued during the year. (This one also makes a great gift under $50!)
GRATEFUL DEAD 7” SINGLES SUBSCRIPTION BENEFITS
• Four Limited Edition Releases
• Free Domestic Shipping
• Delivered Throughout The Year (Shipped March 1, June 1, Sept 1, Dec 1)
• Digital delivery of each of the tracks featured on each 7”, delivered on or around release date
• Subscriber Pricing - $44.98
• A savings of $15.00 over purchasing a la carte
2017 also marks the 50th anniversary of the Grateful Dead's eponymous debut studio album. What better way to celebrate than with a special album reissue series that will include two-disc deluxe editions and limited edition vinyl picture disc versions of all the group’s studio and live albums! These two-disc deluxe editions will include the original album with newly remastered sound, plus a bonus disc of unreleased recordings. The same remastered audio from the original album will also be released as a 12-inch picture disc produced in a limited edition of 10,000 copies.
We'll be kicking things off on January 20th with the release of THE GRATEFUL DEAD: 50th ANNIVERSARY DELUXE EDITION. The set contains the original album — newly remastered from the original tapes by David Glasser, and restored by Plangent Processes — along with a bonus disc that features the complete unreleased concert from July 29th, 1966 and select cuts from July 30th, 1966 at the P.N.E. Garden Auditorium in British Columbia, mastered by Jeffrey Norman. Only a few recordings from the Dead’s first two years exist, but each one reveals corners of the band’s repertoire not captured anywhere else. That’s especially true here, with three songs making their last appearance on any surviving Dead recording: “Standing On The Corner,” “You Don’t Have To Ask Me,” and “Cardboard Cowboy.”
The first 10,000 units manufactured will come in a distinctive psychedelic sleeve.
Head on over to Rollingstone.com for the world premiere of “Standing On The Corner” P.N.E. Garden Auditorium, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (7/29/1966).
On the same day, the newly remastered version of The Grateful Dead will also be available as a 12-inch picture disc, limited to 10,000 copies worldwide.Pre-order THE GRATEFUL DEAD:
Run, run Rudolph, Santa's got to make it to town...
If you've been scratching your head about what to get your favorite Grateful guy or gal for the holidays (or wondering what to tell folks to get you!), you're gonna want to consult our epic Wall of Sound Advent Calendar. Great deals on must-have CDs, vinyl, and boxed sets will be revealed each day in the countdown to Christmas.
Tis the season to be Grateful! Gussy up your social media for the holidays with one of our festive Grateful Dead designs. Click to download your selected art to your desktop. Upload as your profile picture or cover image.
February has become quite a favorite around here. It's when we are flooded with feel-good moments and sometimes - in the best possible way - teary-eyed ones too. Over the past few years, Dead Heads from near and far have worked tirelessly to bring the community their very best take on the Dead's rich legacy. So it should come as no surprise that we will be carrying on the tradition of the DEAD COVERS PROJECT in 2017.
Won't you please join us next year...
Sound just like Jerry? In the Phil Zone? Feel the force of the Rhythm Devils? The 2017 Dead Covers Project wants you! Let your creativity flow, visually and vocally, and your Dead cover could be featured on Dead.net during the month of February.
We'll be taking submissions as soon as January 1st. Simply upload your video to YouTube, tag it "DeadCoversProject," and we'll make it available to view on the band's official YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/gratefuldead in February.
Who needs a miracle everyday? We sure do and we bet you could use one too!
Consider this our gift to you for being so darn loyal... Each day in November we're giving away a high-quality 320Kbps MP3 download. That's 30 days of unreleased Grateful Dead tracks from the vault, selected by Dead archivist and producer David Lemieux! Intrigued? We're also going to put your knowledge to the test and give you the chance to win some sweet swag from the Dead.
Most of you know the drill by now, but for those, that don't, here's the deal:
You know your Ables from your Bakers from your C's, but can your finely tuned ears differentiate the cosmic "comeback" tour from a spacey 70's show? Each day we'll post a free download from one of the Dead's coveted shows. Will it be from that magical night at Madison Square Garden in '93 or from way back when they were just starting to warm it up at Winterland? Is that Pigpen's harmonica we hear? Brent on keys? Step right up and try your hand all November long and win prizes while you're at it.
We're more than halfway through the month, but you can still go back and grab the all the tracks!
There's a fair chance you might not have heard of American cartoonist Paul Pope, but like the superheroes he brings to life, he's been steadily rising up from anonymity for well over 20 years now. From Manga-inspired graphic novels to world-renowned names (ahem Batman!), he brought his talent to the Grateful Dead. Learn more about the Eisner Award-winning artist and his work on JULY 1978: THE COMPLETE RECORDINGS here. (And check out more of his initial sketches for the box here.)
This year we introduced you to Dave's Picks 2016 artist-in-residence Justin Helton. The Knoxville, Tennessee-based designer has been tinkering around in the arts since his high school days, parlaying his skills into a printmaking business that has created works for a veritable who's who in the extended Grateful Dead family. Find out who originally turned him on to the Dead, which Family Dog members influenced his art and more here.