Grateful Dead

The Dead Covers Project

What a wonderful month it's been, sharing our love of the Grateful Dead through song and video! We applaud all the hard work and effort that you, the fans, put into the DEAD COVERS PROJECT, and we hope you'll continue to watch and support all the amazing participant videos on YouTube until we fire up the DEAD COVERS PROJECT again next February.

Throughout the month of April, we'll be shining our lovelight on a handful of artists that really made the grade. You'll get to know each of these five artists and find out just what made them connect with the Dead in our exclusive DEAD COVERS PROJECT profiles, but for now we'd simply like to congratulate the following participants (in no particular order)...

Now Playing In The Band...

The project may be over for 2012, but you can continue to check out some of the "Top Rated" videos that were submitted and "Like" them here.

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Joined: Mar 6 2012
dead covers project

alrighty, just to be clear. I usually don't get sucked into online threads. But I got sucked in. I really like Brandon McCoy's Golden Road, Giving Tree Band Brown Eyed, Nicki Blum and Gambler's Deal, and Cubensis doing Sugaree. And I really liked many of the daily picks thru February, and dozens and dozens of other tunes.

PAPPYPGH's picture
Joined: Jul 2 2007

Certainly I don't think you should feel guilty! My point was (and I used both of those songs, as I NEVER got to see either of them performed by the Grateful Dead and they are 2 of my favorite GD tunes) simply that we should take what we get. If you don't like it - don't worry about it. If you do, enjoy it. Simple.

Can things get 'better'? Sure, but don't forget - one man spills what another man gathers (sorry for the awful paraphrase). So, what's better for me, might not work so well for you. These guys put this up and it got huge response (of course, as the Deadhead community is massive). Lots of great players were put up. Personally, there were some videos selected over the course of the weeks that I thought were 'just okay'. But I harbor no resentment. Do I think that some of my performances were 'better'? Well, I'm a little biased.... ;0)

No worries, though. I'm glad did this. I had fun shooting the videos. I play the songs regularly with a band, but thought it'd be cool to try some solo stuff and 'leave it all hang out in the wind', so to speak (keep it clean, people).

For the record, my favorite video I saw was Senor Pesca's "King Solomon's Marbles" - he cracked the top 10 and he only took 1 day to learn the song. Great work.

Joined: Mar 6 2012
dead covers project

I feel like my post might have sounded overly critical and some others too. I fully agree with Pappypgh. Etiquette is not always my forte.

Nonetheless. I believe conversation, dialogue and communication are all healthy, normal activities. A person can make a comment and that may not reflect everything that person thinks on a matter, or who that person is. I think it's great created the Dead Covers Project. But like everything else in the world, I think things can often work better, be better etc. It's not negativity on the past and now. It's optimism about the future. I think it's always worthy to ask across the scope of human activity, shall we modify, grow, expand, be better, be more positive, or do we remain stagnant. Like I said, I agree with Pappypgh, but I pose the question: Should everything remain the exact same, dead covers project, and everything else in the world, or will things evolve? And how will they evolve? Everything is always changing and evolving. Why not have discussions and conversations and be proactive in positive evolution?

In regards to musicians and artists being disappointed in not receiving recognition: I guess there is a fine line between being egotistical and caring enough about what you do that you'd like someone to look at it or listen to it. I think this is a great ongoing battle in the brains of many creative people. Tension, and angst, and desire often push artistic expression. I agree that motivated musicians should have bands and take them on the road. But some people, have life, family, health issues which prevent this, other people are studio musicians, other people do photography, or are visual artists, or shoot video.

Part of the theme of my post is that there are not only many kinds of dead heads there are many kinds of musicians and artists who play GD music or tie into the scene somehow. I think multiple categories and more "top Picks" would be better for everyone and the world. I think the project would end up distributing more listener/viewer time and energy across a wider range of videos and music. It's not a big Wow thing, it's just an idea.

Also, I saw 97 Grateful Dead shows between '83 and '95 and didn't see Lost Sailor once. Yes, I was disappointed. Of course I think Augusta '84 was completely quintessential, but I was in high school and lived in California. I saw Lost Sailor in Amherst last fall by Further. Complete disaster. Just because I say these things doesn't mean I am less mentally and emotionally advanced than other people. It just means I really liked early to mid 80's Lost Sailor > Saints and wished I had seen one. There's no reason for me to feel guilty about this.

PAPPYPGH's picture
Joined: Jul 2 2007
Just WOW

It was certainly bound to happen. The comments stating "it SHOULD be done THIS way, not THAT way," and, "Here's how you SHOULD have done it."

Come on, folks. Remember when you'd walk into a show and you were hoping to catch your first "Dupree's"? Or you really wanted a "Lost Sailor," that night? Then, they didn't do it. And sometimes they'd even, "play 'Day Job' again." It goes to show, you don't ever know.

Take things for what they are. I submitted about 10 videos - 8 or 9 of me playing solo and a couple with theCAUSE and not one of them got 'liked' more than about 9 times. I did no campaigning of any kind and I knew, once I saw how people were making the 'Top 10' that if I wanted to be there, I had to campaign hard. Not interested. But you know what? I did get ONE reply to my "Reuben & Cerise" solo video that was a really nice compliment. Someone I didn't know - that wasn't already a fan of my band - watched it and told me they liked it. Even if that didn't happen, I was happy to participate.

Sure, it would have given me (Mingle)wood to see one of my videos in the Top 10, or get featured for a day. But it didn't happen and life goes on. If you're hell-bent on a contest and are truly upset by how this little project played out, I suggest you hit the pavement HARD with your music and work it to the point where you become as successful as you want to be with it. This project was just a place to put your stuff. Whomever watched it, 'liked' it or shared it is completely inconsequential. Did you enjoy making it? Did you enjoy listening to others? Great. If your only concern was that the almighty finger of the Grateful Dead reached out and plucked your submission because it was so awesome, you were probably doing this for the wrong reason. It was just a chance to share it with some like-minded people.

The rest is icing on the cake. If you, like me, didn't get to the icing - be thankful you had some cake and move on.

Joined: Mar 6 2012
Dead Covers Project

This is in response to some recent comments (harp unstrung, ziphler, etc...) Like with everything Grateful Dead, you can't always get what you want, but if you try, you get what you need. I fully 80% believe this more than 50% of the time. We put up a Darkstar by Dali with fairly extensive psychedelic creative video editing. I heard about the dead covers project and was psyched to remix this great living room jam Darkstar we had and create a video in the vein of some other artistic video work I have been doing recently. After the music was created and mixed, I spent 40 hours plus about 40 hours of rendering time (computer crunching video all night) in a fairly intense way and got the tune posted at 1:00 AM on Feb. 1st. Perfect project at the moment! Very enjoyable! And i did get more hits and comments than anything else I've posted. Though the chordal structure is very continuous, I think this was a truly whole hearted psychedelically adventurous piece of music with many improvisational elements. I believe this Darkstar is good (good enough to listen to, if you like psychedelic Grateful Dead music). Don't take this comment the wrong way, but most of the chosen songs and tunes in dead covers project are just that, songs and tunes. They aren't psychedelic adventures. From the first notes, and the first singing, it's easy to project ahead and fill in the gaps. You know what the second verse of deal is going to sound like. You know what the guitar solo will sound like. Don't get me wrong No ONE LOVES Grateful Dead music more than me - the classic repetoire from the late 60's thru the early 80's. Huge neural pathways are sliced thru my mind and all the tunes flow right through them easily. I love all of it, the country, the bluegrassy, the ballads, about 100 tunes that are just Grateful Dead and nothing else, and all the long "second set" material.... Terrapin, Playin, Estimated, Darkstar, Eyes, Help Slipknot. Alright, where am I going with this....

I agree, you can't squeeze this into a "contest" and I think it is wrong to view it as such. Everyone benefits. Musicians and video people can put stuff up, listeners and viewers can watch. But if it is framed as an annual thing and the process is what it is, I think there are legitimate concerns.

- There are multiple styles of Grateful Dead music. Big, psychedelic jam tunes by live bands were largely ignored in the picks du jour.
- No Bob tunes in final picks... I don't really view things that way, but it is fairly traditional to sub-divide to Bob and Jerry tunes, and there are distinct stylistic differences across large percentages of each.
- I agree that videography and video editing seemed to be largely ignored. Birdhouse doing Here Comes Sunshine was sweet - I mean they had to go out in a field and nail a performance, at the exact time the sun is poking through the trees, and a pretty smooth camera operator was shooting the video - and the tune is excellent. And the editing and production was great. The point is that I agree the videography, and sound quality, seemed to be less of an issue, than some aspect of novelty in the performance which sometimes I found difficult to pinpoint or appreciate.

There are many kinds of Deadheads and will be many kinds in the future. Most of my friends are jazz musicians and various other types, some like the Dead, others don't. Many people are impressed with the virtuoisity of the musicianship and complexity of certain material. I think there will be many young people - I mean, next generation, after next generation, who will get into Grateful Dead music in different ways. I wonder if you are brand new to it all, and you dial in the top 5 covers picked to be promoted in March what you will think.?? Do you think, "cooked hippies" or do you think "vast array of incredible music and creativity"?

Again, don't get me wrong. I am a cooked hippie myself.


- Bluegrass/Country
- "other" 1st set material (late 70's > 80's "first set" material
- "Second set" material
- Non-traditional styles (punk, rap, metal, classical...)
- Quality videography
- Creative video editing, effects, etc.

I further suggest maybe 5 tunes get picked per day, or a tune in each category perhaps, and then several dozen featured at the end of it all.

I guess I like the concept of it as an ongoing thing and not contest. Hilarious comment by someone on Deadheads wearing watches...

Also, I'm not a big Facebook self promotion guy. Yes, I have my business and stuff which I'd like to see grow via social networking, but I hate playing games and trying to get all my friends to Like me on and facebook. I like to put out some interesting music and art, but let interested people take interest, and other just won't.

Again, the whole thing was great, I fully enjoyed and will continue to check out hundreds of videos. I laughed and cried a bunch of times. It's amazing how great music passes inter-generationally and binds humanity through time.

Thanks again Grateful Dead, Furthur, and all the fans!!

jjchristiano's picture
Joined: Jan 12 2009
Thanks for all the tunes

Best part of the contest is it put a whole bunch of great content on YouTube. I love looking for great covers of all my favorite tunes and now I have a ton of them of my favorite band. Will be watching them regularly and decide on my own Favorites.
Thanks for thinking this concept up. Can't wait for next year.

ziphler's picture
Joined: Dec 16 2011
make it a project, not a contest

Thank you Harp-Unstrung for articulating a point of view that I’m willing to bet represents the perspective of the MAJORITY of participants in this project. This project came out of left field, was not particularly thought through prior to launch, was over before anyone even understood the ground rules, and in’s own words had an overwhelming response. If the likes of Mickey Hart are to be believed, the current mission of is to tap into the massive consumer market that the grateful dead brand has inspired. I’m sure there are many in the organization who are stung by that statement but I say more power to you. Why? Because if wealth and power must be concentrated somewhere I would rather it be held by organizations like the Grateful Dead.

I don’t know Blairj’s connection to but since he responded in defense of the status quo his statements are a good place to begin. Harp-Unstrung already addressed some of Blairj’s comments as well as elucidating some key practical issues so I’m just gonna expand on a few things and try to frame out the fundamental difference between this project and every other facet of Blairj admonishes that I not take things too seriously because this project was meant to be a “fun exercise”. I researched some of Blairj’s posts and nowhere on this forum have I read anything more passionate than his outrage over Rolling Stone Magazine’s ranking of Garcia as #47 guitarist of all time and I couldn’t agree more. I was actually pissed off when I saw that issue and anyone who knows me will tell you I don’t do anger. But it was a ratings contest for the entertainment of its readers, nothing was at stake, no effort required by the participants who were all highly recognized musicians.

When Blairj espouses on how successful this was as a fun exercise he is spot on in that this has got to be a ratings bonanza for which is in the business of tapping the consumers of the Dead Brand. Honestly, while everything dead is new to that next generation of teens being introduced to the long strange trip, this project represents the only truly fresh and new content on So yes it was a success, the deadheads love it but Harp-Unstrung nailed it when he points out how many very talented musicians, technicians, artists, and promoters jumped through hoops for what frankly turned into a joke. Not to take away from the five winners who are all deserving and were obviously picked thoughtfully by an individual or small committee, nor the ten featured above who are an interesting cross-sectional representation of the hundreds of entries but Harp-Unstrung is correct; they are all reaping huge benefit just by virtue of their seat on this page. And what about the Canadian band that sat at #1 with 2700 likes for most of the month. I’m dying to hear your explanation just by virtue of what delicious gossip it will be – although in court, that story would get your whole event thrown out the window. I think my point is that with power comes responsibility and the deadcoversproject has so far been a fairly reckless exercise of power.

This project ought to be about the performers, musicians, artists, technicians who among other things are struggling to make a living with their skills. A living totally dependent on being recognized for what they are. The dead are to be commended for their sense of responsibility toward their fans over the years and no one can blame them turning a buck off of the sheer numbers of deadicated deadheads that thrive off of being a part of the clan but I would argue that this band has far greater responsibility to their fellow entertainers who, in many cases, were inspired by the dead to become what they are.

I think somebody over there at had a great idea here but I they seem clueless regarding what it takes to make a video. Sure, a solo performer need do little more than tape themselves singing in the shower but to do what the dead did takes a coordinated organization (which is yet a whole nother topic) This project became a mandatory assignment once announced. You don’t pass up this kind of opportunity if you are a musician. Don’t underestimate the resentment the execution of this “project” will generate if you continue to handle the artists involved like so many trained monkeys. While your fans are eating this up, your peers in the music business are like WTF? Unlike the multitude of fans out there your fellow musicians aren’t asking for a miracle, just a fair shake and equal opportunity. The dead know it is a great leap from society’s comfort zone to choose music as a career, and rarely does it pay back what it has for the dead but . . . there but by the grace of Jerry they go.

There’s an easy fix. You named it a project, make it a project. Recognize that this is the resource side of your business, not sales. Make it ongoing, you’ve got the infrastructure already (see my earlier post), use it to bring all this talent together, don’t pit them against each other and for God’s sake DON’T MAKE THEM WEAR WATCHES!

And no Semper Fire, a contest is exactly what this whiner for one does NOT want.


marye's picture
Joined: May 26 2007
sorry, I was just feeling

that mid-'80s NFA coming on...

marye's picture
Joined: May 26 2007
somebody start

The Chant...

Joined: May 5 2009
Good fun time

I had a great time, and I think most everybody else had a great time. Unfortunately the world is round and there are all types. So I guess there are whiners too.
It seems like comparing apples to oranges to make a contest out of music. But if that is what some will want go ahead and give it to them.

What is important is that now we know there are great bands out there still playing Dead. And now we know where they are etc..
We also know that there are tons of Deadheads out there playing amateur versions of Dead tunes.
We also know there are tons of Regular folks out there who are also playing dead tunes........

And hopefully the Dead know that we love them and will never give up....
And whenever some of them want to retire the music wont stop. It will be okay.


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