Grateful Dead

Blair's Golden Road Blog

Why a weekly blog? Well, for a while now I’ve wanted to have a place where I can talk about music, issues, events and people related to the Grateful Dead and the post-GD world on a regular basis — and also hear what you have to say about this unique and fascinating universe we’re all wrapped up in to varying degrees. In coming weeks, I’ll be bringing up various issues connected to the Dead world that we can bat around and (hopefully) have some fun with, I’ll talk about some recent books and films (good and bad) that have connections to the scene, no doubt take a trip or two down memory lane, and we’ll see where it all leads. If there are issues or questions you’d like to see addressed, let me know. Don’t be shy! We’re all friends here…

- Blair Jackson

  • As I watched Madonna’s dumb, hopelessly over-the-top, obviously lip-synched performance during halftime of the Super Bowl, I wondered what the Grateful Dead might have done if they’d stuck around this long and were asked to play at that outsized and cartoonish extravaganza. (OK, we’re in Fantasyland here: Jerry is still alive and somehow Dead Heads in the corporate wing of the NFL convinced their bosses and the network carrying the Super Bowl that the “legendary” Grateful Dead would be perfect to fill that 17-minute slot between the 12th Bud Light commercial and this year’s shameful sex tease from GoDaddy.com. After all, The Who and Paul McCartney had done it, and Led Zep still wasn’t interested.)

  • When Dead.net’s Dead Covers Project began a month or so ago, I thought to myself, “OK, this could be fun. I hope a few folks send in videos, ’cause it’ll be embarrassing if no one does.” I further thought, “I’ll listen to them all, then maybe recommend a few I particularly like in my blog.” Well, I’m here to report that after three two-hour headphone sessions on three different days, plus a bunch of scattered listenings of four or five in a sitting, I’m not even close to having heard them all, or even most of them. What an incredible response there has been, and more are comin’ in every day. This is so cool!

  • I’m writing this the morning after RatDog’s reunion show at Bob Weir’s TRI Studios complex in San Rafael, Marin County. I haven’t scoured the Internet to gauge fan reaction to the free webcast and I have no idea what it looked or sounded like out there in the real world. I want to jot down my thoughts—free of outside influences—about what it was like being in the room at TRI experiencing the show live.

  • It was nearly four years ago—April 24, 2008, to be precise—that the Grateful Dead announced at a press conference at the Fillmore in SF that the group was donating its archives and assorted memorabilia to the University of California at Santa Cruz and would reside in that sylvan campus’ McHenry Library. There was chatter about making much of what was in the archives available on the Internet and also creating an exhibition space in the McHenry Library called Dead Central, where the band could show off some of the collectibles they accumulated over their 30-year history, much of it saved by Eileen Law, who was the group’s primary liaison with Dead Heads beginning in 1972.

  • I have been asked many times through the years who my favorite Grateful Dead keyboardist was, and I usually answer “Keith Godchaux.” There was something about Keith’s playing that made it feel completely integral to the band’s sound—particularly from ’71 to ’74—in a way that no other GD keyboardist’s work did for me. Maybe it was the timbre of that grand piano and the way it slotted into the gestalt. There was an effortless quality to his playing, whether it was deep space or rollicking barrelhouse or rippin’ rock ’n’ roll that felt perfect to me for that band at that time.

  • What a wonderful year it was for the various Dead-connected bands crisscrossing the continent. So many good shows in venues ranging from tiny clubs to cool old theaters to arenas to festival grounds … to our computer screens!

  • What does it mean that I can clearly remember every New Year’s Eve I spent with the Grateful Dead or post-Dead bands, but can recall almost none of my other December 31sts? I know that in the years after Jerry died, there were a couple of midnights spent with friends, dancing at midnight to a grainy VHS bootleg of the “Sugar Magnolia” from the ’78 Closing of Winterland concert. I recall one year my dear, now-departed friend Jon Hoffman cooked live lobsters we washed down with champagne; that was fun! A couple of years ago, Regan and I elected to go see Phil & Friends on the 30th at the relatively intimate Warfield, but not go to NYE at the larger SF Civic. We cruised around Berkeley with our teenage daughter looking for action and finally found it in the form of a cozy French restaurant, where we gorged ourselves on cake and champagne before heading home and watching a Fred Astaire movie at midnight on TCM. But the rest are mostly a blur.

  • Even though I was a rabid Dead Head when I moved from New York to the Bay Area back in the fall of 1973, I didn’t make it to a Dead New Year’s Eve show until 1981-82.

  • Continuing what has become a cherished early-December tradition for the Grateful Dead Family, the Rex Foundation put on another Wang Dang Doodle of a fundraiser at the Fillmore in San Francisco Dec. 3. Titled “Run for the Roses,” this year’s fete served up three fine sets of music—heavy on tunes associated with the Jerry Garcia Band—played by a parade of top jam band favorites in unique configurations. Most of the hundreds of folks on hand also enjoyed a sumptuous pre-show buffet dinner at elegantly appointed tables that covered much of the Fillmore’s floor, and the upstairs bar/gallery hosted an impressive silent auction of cool photos, posters, signed memorabilia (a Bill Walton basketball!) and more, raising thousands of additional dollars for Rex.

Blair's Golden Road Blog