Grateful Dead

Welcome to My (Blog) World!

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. Basically, for the past few decades, much of my mind and spirit have been dominated by my interest in the Dead and the many tangents that have led from that incredible source of light and life. Of course, I’ve held jobs that have nothing to do with the Dead, raised two great kids, led what for all intents and purposes is a “normal” life, and listened to thousands upon thousands of hours of non-Dead music. But the Dead have always been at least in the background, and often in the foreground, of my life ever since Live Dead came out in November of 1969 and I subsequently saw my first show at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, New York, March 20, 1970. As Bob Weir sang (of a woman, I presume) in “Lazy Lightning,” “it’s an obsession, but it’s pleasing.”

I suspect most of you have seen my byline around this site on stories or product promos, have read liner notes I might have penned for various Road Trips and other releases, and some may go back to my days as editor/publisher of The Golden Road Dead fanzine, or even further to my years at BAM, the free Bay Area music magazine I worked for between 1976 and 1983. If you went to Pelham (New York) High with me in the very early ’70s, you might’ve read my first-ever Dead review—of the Vintage Dead album.

Golden Road magazine publishers
Regan and Blair on duty
at Red Rocks, 1987
I moved to the Bay Area from suburban NY in the fall of ’73, arriving just in time to catch the 11/11 Dead concert at wonderful Winterland — quite a contrast from my previous GD show at giant and decrepit Roosevelt Stadium in Joisey on Jerry’s 31st birthday. For a few years, I’d felt I was destined to live in the Bay Area someday. Then, spending some of the summer of ’73 living with my older bro in the Oakland Hills and going to see several Garcia-Saunders and Old & in the Way shows (not to mention Van Morrison and all sorts of other faves who played in clubs here), pretty much convinced me to transfer to UC Berkeley for my last two years of college. I got my degree in Political Science (was and still am a political junkie), then went to the graduate School of Journalism there, with an eye toward being a rock critic. That segued into my long tenure at BAM, and that’s what allowed me to write my first book about the Dead, The Music Never Stopped (which, at the time, 1983, was the only history of the band available). The following year, my wife, Regan, and I started The Golden Road, which took me even deeper in the Dead world and gave me the opportunity to interview and write about so many of the cool folks who have been part of the scene through the years. We put out 27 issues between the winter of ’84 and the middle of ’93, by which point we were about to have our second child and didn’t have the time or space in our house to keep putting out a magazine. During that time my main gig was being a writer and editor at Mix, the leading U.S. sound and recording magazine, and I continue to write for Mix to this day.

After Jerry died, I spent a couple of years working on the book Garcia: An American Life (published by Viking in 1999), co-produced the So Many Roads box set with my buddies David Gans and Steve Silberman, and also got involved with helping put out posthumous Garcia releases, including the All Good Things box. When Rhino took over the management of the Grateful Dead’s archival release program a few years ago, I signed on to work occasionally for the re-vamped Dead.net website and joined with Vaultmaster Supreme David Lemieux to play a small role in shepherding the Road Trips series.

So, that’s who I am. 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…

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Joined: Jun 6 2007
How about...

...Europe 2012?

40th anniversary tour...

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Joined: Jun 16 2007
Euro Dead and P&F

Hi Blair - thanks for your comments about Euro Deadheads - like Jeremy, I have lived with the band for for about three quarters of my 60 years! There is a hard core of us left, including here in North East England (I mailed you recently with stuff about Newcastle 72) where, for several years the "Spiral Light" fanzine was produced.

Regarding P&F, I too loved the Campbell/Greene lineup and my son and I managed to get to see that band in New York on the night Obama was elected. The atmosphere was astonishing - we could really feel the vibe getting better and better as the news came in from various states, and then we went out to Times Square to party. An excellent night and my son, who had never encountered Deadheads before, thought they were the nicest bunch of people he had ever met at a gig.

My enduring wish is that Furthur, P&F or any variation thereof, manage to get to Europe some day.

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Joined: Jun 6 2007
Mick...

I would love to see a benefit release of the Rex show, and actually heard some talk about it around that time, but since then I've heard nothing... Obviously there are rights issues and such, but it seems like it would be a pretty amenable group. Well see...

As for Larry Campbell and P&F, that was was my favorite lineup ever of that band. Larry is great, and I'm also a big Jackie Greene fan, too. I thought they had the right amount of Deadness but also went in so many other cool directions as well. I still miss 'em. It was fun seeing Larry (and Teresa) at the Furthur Fest in Calaveras last spring.

Don't get me wrong--I love Furthur, but I always enjoyed how much non-Dead stuff that particular edition of P&F did. A tip o' the hat to Steve Molitz, too, that lineup's very interesting and underrated keyboardist!

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Joined: Jan 2 2009
augustwest

Thanks for the story =)

"It's got no signs or dividing line and very few rules to guide"

mickwhaley's picture
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Joined: Jun 11 2007
The Wheel—A Musical Celebration of Jerry Garcia

Hey Blair! Good to be able to get your perspective as well the opportunity to toss questions to you. A couple of comments from my view point that I would like your feedback on, if you are so inclined. First is on the The Wheel—A Musical Celebration of Jerry Garcia. I really enjoyed your comments about this live show & as I stated at that time it would be great to get a copy of that show with Peter Rowan, Jody Stecher, Jesse McReynolds & all the other wonderful musicians. So was the event recorded & what is the chance that the notion I am campaigning for could come to be? The other item was concerning the Phil & Friends Band & especially the multi-instrumental musicianship of Larry Campbell. I very much enjoy the Furthur band but when I listen back to Larry’s playing on the Phil & Friends shows he really distinguishes himself in a big, big way & in my view he is the most accomplished at interpreting this music. He is just an amazing artist. Too bad some of those concerts are still not available for downloading. Just wonder what you think on that subject. I also saw Rhythm Devils in Flagstaff, AZ, last summer (2010) & was quite impressed with that band & their young lead guitarist. Thanks & take care.

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Joined: Jun 6 2007
That's Bill!

Brash but usually tellin' the truth!

augustwest's picture
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Joined: Jun 4 2007
Red Rock/Telluride '87

Like Blair, my fondest memories of these "shows" do not involve the band's performances either.

The drum procession down main street Telluride at dawn on the day of the harmonic convergence, led by Babatunde Olatunji, is second only to seeing Bill Graham picking up trash on main street after the second night. I went over to thank him "for a real good time" and he responded, in his brash sorta way, "glad you liked it, because it will NEVER FUCKING happen again!"

He was right about that....

mandala's picture
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Joined: Jun 4 2007
europe '72 set marketing

i want to agree with whoever brought up their objections to the europe '72 set marketing scheme. what a bunch of elitist bullshit! jerry woulda hated that kind of bs...

mandala's picture
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Joined: Jun 4 2007
phil and the rhythm devils

i'll pop in here to say that you've got that backwards. it's phil who doesn't want to play with billy (and then ergo, mickey) for reasons too pathetic to go into. i'm sort of jealous of people who are able to get off on furthur; they just bore me to tears and send me running back to all my jerry recordings. for live music, i'll take the david nelson band, stu allen or jackie greene ahead of furthur anyday...

deadmike's picture
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Joined: Jun 13 2007
Hey ...

I was also going to ask about possible video releases, especially since a lot is illegally released in Europe, like the Sunshine Daydream movie with alternal takes. And with Dickey Betts & Great Southern I have an offical release with their 1977/78 concert at Grugahalle, Essen, West Germany (as it was called back then).

My "first" Grateful Dead show so to speak was the show från March 28th, 1981, which was broadcast throughout Europe. It included a performance by the Karamozov Brothers and some fun footage taken from when the Dead and the Karamozov Brothers went through the German customer service. Anyway, that performance would be nice if it could be officially released.

But I was also going to ask about more studio stuff, like great outtakes and such. On tape I have The Terrapin Outtakes and I used to have the record itself but I sold it. Anyway, on that that record there was an really grrrreat studio outtake of Smokestack Lightning, not taken from the Terrapin Outtakes - obviously - since it has Pigpen on vocals. How much more of stuff like this is there to be found in the vaults? Is it enought for a relase?

I remember there was talk about some nice outtakes with Bob Dylan in 1987. Will some of that ever be released, like say a Dylan & The Dead version of "The Basement Tapes"?

Also there got to be tons of good recorded soundchecks and studio jams, right? Will we ever live to hear some of that? It would be great if some of it could offically see the light of day.

Micke Östlund, Växjö, Sweden

------------------------------ My record collection: jazzmicke

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