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

  • In my blog a couple of weeks ago about my favorite cover versions of Grateful Dead songs, I mentioned the Bay Area acoustic band Wake the Dead, who play a unique fusion of (mostly) Irish traditional music and Dead tunes. I had liked several album tracks of theirs through the years, but had never seen them live—amazing since they’ve been a local fixture for a dozen years.

  • I’m as excited as everyone else to see what the future brings with Dave’s Picks. But please permit me one moment of nostalgia for the departing Road Trips series, which I thoroughly enjoyed being a small part of these past four years.

  • As I write this on the morning of October 25, it is 20 years to the day that Bill Graham was killed in a helicopter crash, along with his girlfriend Melissa Gold and pilot Steve “Killer” Kahn. On that stormy night in 1991, they were returning to Bill’s home in Marin County from a Huey Lewis & the News concert at the Concord Pavilion in the East Bay. Bill had wanted to drop by and congratulate Huey and his band for selling out two concerts; a typical Bill Graham gesture.

  • My blog a couple of weeks ago about the new/retooled Persuasions of the Dead CD, on which the famous a capella giants tackled a wide variety of Grateful Dead songs, got me thinking about my favorite covers of Dead songs. Although the Dead will never match the zillions of new Beatles covers released every day, the number of Dead covers being released has increased steadily through the years, particularly since Garcia died.

  • The people came and listened/ Some of them came and played/ Others gave flowers away, yes they did/ Down in Monterey

    —Eric Burdon & The Animals, 1967

    Road trip! Could it really have been 17 years since Regan and I hit the highway for a weekend of concerts somewhere?

  • Chances are you’ve encountered some of Paul Grushkin’s remarkable books through the years. His first, a collaboration with his photographer brother, Jonas, and designer Cynthia Bassett, was one of the best ever produced about our favorite group — Grateful Dead: The Official Book of the Dead Heads, published in 1983, and still a timeless document of the band and scene. With its hundreds of historical photos, copious examples of Dead-related artwork, revealing and often funny snippets of articles about the Dead and letters to the band, the book is a trip in itself. What a wondrous time machine it is!

  • This week I’m catching up on some odds and ends.

    First up is Persuasions of the Dead, a two-CD set of the great a capella vocal group The Persuasions singing Grateful Dead songs, occasionally joined by various other singers and a handful of musicians.

  • Finding a consensus on almost anything in the Grateful Dead world is a daunting proposition. There are as many opinions about the “best” shows or tours as there are Dead Heads. Each of us has his or her own prejudices about songs, tours and eras based on a million different factors, from personal experiences at shows to associations we have with specific songs and myriad other circumstances that affect what we like and dislike.

  • If you see me wandering around Berkeley and Oakland wearing a black arm band and weeping uncontrollably, it may be because I have finally decided it is time for me to part with my large collection of Grateful Dead cassette tapes. This is not a decision I have arrived at lightly.

  • Next week, in Eugene, Oregon, Furthur begins its third year of gigs together. It is already the most stable and longest-lasting group since Jerry’s death to include both Phil and Bob. And the consensus among fans of the band seems to be that the steady touring schedule since those first Furthur shows at the Fox Theatre in Oakland back in September of 2009 and now numbering around 150 (including their “live rehearsal” gigs in Marin) has resulted in a band that has been getting better and evolving each tour, as the telepathic channels linking the musicians grow clearer and stronger, and the group continues to develop its own sound.

Blair's Golden Road Blog