Grateful Dead

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Dead Covers Project Profiles: Leah & Aila

Budding singer-songwriters Leah Tashman and Aila Rose Macri touched us with their sweetly sparse rendition of "Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo." Find out what these friends from Fire Island are up to now and why they owe their gratefulness to Aila's dad.

Who is playin' in the band?

Aila Rose Macri and Leah Tashman

Tell us a little bit about your musical backgrounds and how you formed.

Leah: We both grew up on a little island by the Atlantic, called Fire Island. We became friends when we were children and grew up sharing our musical discoveries with one another. Before either of us had any real musical knowledge, we would run down the streets singing songs together. I found music at a darker time in my life and since then it has been my friend, my protector, and my liberator.

Aila: I started playing piano and trumpet early in life and then gravitated towards playing string instruments; banjo, dulcimer, and ukulele. Playing stringed instruments enabled me to sing along. Leah and I would frequently meet up to harmonize on duets. Our relationship grew organically from our mutual love of bluegrass, folk, rock and of course, the Grateful Dead.

Leah Tashman

You chose to submit "Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo" for your cover. How did you pick this tune? And your location for filming!

Leah: We picked this tune because we both covered it separately and realized we could combine our individual versions into one. The location for filming was in my closet in my apartment in New York City.

Aila: This song gave us a chance to reinterpret its delivery as a duo, playing to the strengths of our individual voices in creating a version that compliments our own original solo performances. It’s kind of funny that we were just playing around and decided to record this song on a whim, while sitting literally in Leah’s closet. Maybe if I knew people were going to see it, I would have smiled!

Between the two of you, there's quite a collection of covers on the internet. Any plans to write original tunes - together or with others?

Leah: We have written an original song together - "Far Across to Ocean Beach (to the tune of Reuben & Rachel)" - and we both write songs on our own.

What's on tap for the rest of 2015?

Leah: Keep converting my thoughts into song, and perform for faces friendly and new.

Aila: As I just graduated college, I will be focusing on my move from the east coast to the northwest coast. Once settled, I hope to find another partner as wonderful as Leah, to explore new musical paths until we meet up again in the future.

Aila Rose Macri

Looking for more? Check out Leah's original song "Rum to Riches" here and Aila's Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero's Cover here.


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castle17's picture
Joined: Feb 12 2008
mississippi half step

That was the best cover I've watched since started this! I thought you two should have won, whatever that means. Keep on singing and playing, ladies. You're very good. You'll make a lot of people happy by doing so.

Peace and love,


zjman's picture
Joined: Jun 14 2007
make me dance

this could be something big, good luck


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Leah and Aila's Grateful Dead